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Wednesday, 29 Jan 2020

Overcoming Your Chronic Fatigue: A CBT Approach

By Dr Becky Spelman
Overcoming Chronic Fatigue Through CBT | Private Therapy Clinic

If you’re struggling with chronic fatigue-like symptoms, you’ll know how hard it is to carry out your daily activities. It can feel like you’re constantly pushing against the tide. There’s nothing worse. It can be a confusing condition, as many believe chronic fatigue to be a symptom rather than a legitimate issue. There’s merit in both schools of thought. But what is certain is that sleep plays a crucial role in your overall sense of vitality and stamina. If your body isn’t getting the rest it needs on a consistent basis, you’re going to find yourself in an energy deficit which can be hard to overcome. But there is a way you can work on correcting your sleep patterns using a cognitive behavioural therapy approach.

The following are the steps you can start taking in your own time to improve the quality of your sleep and regain your vitality:

Monitor Your Activity and Sleep Patterns

The first step in any cognitive behavioural approach is gathering information. You need a solid foundation of your habits, so you can identify what might be causing you to have dysfunctional sleep pattern. This involves keeping a diary noting your activities throughout the day, including rest periods and most importantly, what you were doing in the final hours before you went to bed. You want to have at least two weeks of information to draw on, so you see an accurate picture of what your day-to-day routine looks like.

Setting Achievable Targets

This is a crucial step and where you may falter if you’re not careful. The whole crux of a cognitive behaviour approach is that you’re looking to modify your behaviour gradually. This, of course, involves setting targets. But they need to be realistic. You should be wary of confusing long-term goals with shorter-term targets. If you’re someone who’s goal-orientated, it can stand you in good stead. But do be careful not overburden yourself. Create attainable targets to give yourself a mental boost and then try pushing your edge a little more once you’ve settled into a rhythm.

Improving Sleep Patterns

Getting your sleep patterns correct is the ultimate goal. But the way you do that is by making incremental improvements. Building on the idea of setting goals, there are many small steps you can take to create a more optimal sleep pattern for yourself. The first and most obvious is getting into a regular bedtime routine. You need to train the body to recognise when it’s time to sleep. This can take as long as three weeks, so be patient, habits time to form. It also follows that if you’re going to bed at the same time each day, getting up the same time is equally important. Another huge factor in establishing an optimal sleep routine is the association you have with your bedroom. If you’re constantly awake in bedroom, you’ll associate that wakeful state with your sleeping space which can cause issues in the long-term.

Planning Your Activities and Rest Time

Once you’ve created your diary and created your targets, you’ll need to plan out your days accordingly. You’ll do this by creating an activity programme. It might seem a little prescriptive, and like you’re scripting your life too much. But you can still be spontaneous. And once you’re got yourself back into a regular pattern of sleep, keeping track of your schedule will be more fluid. In the first instance, though, it’s good to have it in writing. The key to putting your plan together for more rest and activity is consistency and regularity. As we’ve already touched on, don’t ask too much of yourself — plan to do the same amount of activity and have the same amount of rest each day. For example, if you do all you cleaning in one day, try breaking it up and spreading it over multiple days. And for your rest time, make sure you’re doing something that you actually find restful. Some people find reading stimulating while others find it helps them unwind. You’ll know what works best for you. And as we’ve already hit on, don’t use your bedroom for rest time. You want to move away from associating wakefulness with your sleep space as much as possible.

About the author:

Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.

***If you’re struggling with Chronic fatigue and think you might benefit from speaking to someone about your situation, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.

Burgess, Mary. (6th Oct 2016). Overcoming Chronic Fatigue. Robinson; UK 2nd ed. Edition 11th Apr 2019).

NHS. (16th May 2017). Overview: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME). Retrieved on 11th December, 2019 from, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs/

Webmd. (12th Oct 2018). What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Retrieved on 11th December, 2019 from, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs/

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