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16Apr

A woman in a straw hat reclines on a white sand beach in front of an azure ocean - going on holiday when you have ME, Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia

I used to really look forward to my holidays, but when I became ill with ME, the thought of going away… honestly – it became a bit of an ordeal for me.

This can happen when you are struggling with ME / CFS or Fibromyalgia because often, the routines and structures that we have put in place in our daily lives can help to keep us balanced and in a state of homeostasis. You learn pretty quickly that doing something you wouldn’t normally do or pushing your energy quota further than you usually would can result in the punishment that is a relapse.

And holidays are one of the biggest times when these routines and structures fall away. It’s harder to measure how much energy you are expending, relative to what you would normally do, and easier to stumble into the realms of doing too much.

I also found that I would approach a holiday with fear and anxiety, chewing over the ‘what ifs’:

  • What if the flight knackers me?
  • What if the motorways are jammed?
  • What if I overdo it?
  • What if I have to stand up to queue at the airport?
  • What if I need to rest?
  • What if people have expectations of me that I just can’t fulfil (this was a huge one for me)
  • What if they don’t understand why I can’t do some activities?

And this alone – the worry about how I would handle it all – was enough to drain my energy and leave me a tired and wired wreck, before I had even packed my flipflops!

So what can you do to make your holiday a thing to look forward to?

1.      Control the controllables

A hand holds a glass bottle of essential oils - how to control the controllables when you are on holiday with ME, CFS or Fibromyalgia

What are the things at home that keep you on an even keel? How could you replicate them whilst you are away? This might include things like:

  • Foods and supplements – what keeps you feeling good, and what depletes you?
  • Time can lose meaning on holiday; what reminders do you need to remember to take vits or other health-sustaining things?
  • Environment – need it cold, dark and peaceful in order to get a good night’s sleep? How does your choice of hotel support this? (i.e. a hotel with no air con in the party capital of Tenerife was NOT a good choice for me at my worst!).
  • What else would help make you really comfortable? Eye masks? Handheld fan? Cooling face spray? Favourite fluffy blanket? Some lovely calming essential oils? (Neal’s Yard Women’s Balance is something I always travel with).
  • Sensitive to EMFs and WiFi? (a lot of us are!). Could you take a grounding sheet or energy dots to help fend off the ubiquitous hotel WiFi?

2.      Ask for what you need

A couple of sunloungers under a palm leaf umbrella beside a turquoise swimming pool - how to ask for what you need when on holiday with ME, CFS or Fibromyalgia

You might be travelling with family, friends or partners – what can you ask them for that will make your holiday experience smoother? Here are some examples of things that helped me: (you can probably tell that these are mostly directed towards my husband!):

  • If we’re getting a 7am flight, maybe booking into an airport hotel the night before might be sensible – just saying!
  • Let’s not make massive plans for the first couple of days away – lying by the pool might help us both recharge and orient ourselves in our new holiday location.
  • There will be times when I will need to just lie down and take it easy – doing this will help me be more available to you later in the holiday, so we can do some fun stuff then.
  • There’s a chance I may ask for assistance at the airport if the queues are very long. I may well need you to help me do that – is that cool?
  • There may be days when I don’t feel up to getting down to the breakfast buffet before it finishes at 10am – I may well be asking you to stuff some sausages and bacon in your pockets to bring back upstairs to me when this happens!
  • And sometimes, honestly, it can be yourself that you need to ask permission from – to not push yourself beyond where you feel good, and to allow yourself to retreat to a shady spot, lie down and relax – and to enjoy that!

3.      Don’t worry (be happy)

A woman in a check shirt writing in a red diary - it's a great idea to journal about any anxieties you may have when anticipating going on holidat with ME, CFS or Fibromyalgia

This is definitely easier said than done, but if you are able to reduce down any anxiety about going away, this will really help take your body out of ‘fight or flight’ and into your lovely healing ‘rest and digest’ state. What would help you replace the worry demons with positive anticipation instead?

  • Just noticing any anxious thought patterns ahead of your break will help you to identify what is worrying you.
  • Is there something practical you need to do to get it out of your system?
  • Journaling may help to really pinpoint what the issue is, and help you understand what you can do about it. It might fall into one of these categories:
  1. A controllable that you can control (see point 1)
  2. Something you need to ask for (see point 2)
  3. Something that you can neither control nor mitigate with a request. If this is the case, what impact does this have on you? Is it manageable? Can you go on this holiday whilst still honouring your wellbeing above all else? If not, what do you want to do about that?

The thing to remember is that this is our holiday – our ‘time off for good behaviour’ –  and we absolutely deserve to have the time away that lets us look after our health and wellbeing, and that allows us to return home feeling like we’ve really had a nourishing break.

Wishing you all happy, healthful holidays

Anne xx

https://www.lifesparkcoaching.net/what-we-do/me-cfs-fibromyalgia-support

https://www.facebook.com/lifesparkcoaching/

 

  

Anne Bryant

Hi, I’m Anne. I’m a hugely passionate Life Coach, I love getting underneath the skin of what makes people tick, and helping them use this to achieve their biggest dreams. I also love helping people to regain their health from ME / CFS and Fibromyalgia. Originally from the beautiful county of Cornwall, my career started in the corporate world, where I spent twenty years coaching individuals and teams, training, leading change programmes, and many other ‘corporate things’. Falling ill with ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) for six years led me on a journey of personal discovery, where I had to dig deep to understand exactly what I needed to do to regain my health fully again. In the process I had a massive realisation: that instead of just using my talents in a corporate environment, I wanted to use my coaching skills and experience to help individuals to fundamentally transform their lives. I now help people to create the life that sets them on fire – whether that’s by using my own experience as an ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia Support Practitioner to help guide them out of chronic illness and back to full health or by helping people in my capacity as Life Coach to dream big in any and every area of their life and put the steps in place to get them there. Here is what I believe: • Wellbeing is fundamental to living a fulfilling life • Recovery from chronic health conditions such as ME / CFS and Fibromyalgia is absolutely possible • Stress and burnout do not have to be the price of a successful career • You can take control of your life to achieve the balance you want, and design and live your most fulfilling life I am trained by the Coaches Training Institute; and am an ILM Accredited Wellbeing Coach and FHT Accredited Specialist Practitioner with The Chrysalis Effect Supported Recovery Programme. When I’m not coaching, you can find me at home in our little Bedfordshire village with my husband James, at the gym working towards ‘lifting heavy’, on my yoga mat, creating new art, or quite possibly rocking out at a music festival.

4 Responses to Going On Holiday with ME / CFS and Fibromyalgia

  1. Thanks for another interesting blog Anne, definitely food for thought.

    Kind regards
    talkhealth

  2. Jude Wright

    A fantastic blog and a subject close to me heart! My partner and I are going on our first real holiday since I became ill in 2014… long story I git bitten by a tick, contracted Lyme Disease nearly died and spent a year being very ill…and this then was diagnosed as fibromyalgia, I also suffer from anxiety… I am pleased to say that I now have my health pretty much on a plateau although I am unable to work full time and am classed a partly disabled. So this first holiday ( a 12 night cruise ) is going to be amazing but I am a little scared
    Too! I have an terrible fear of “being ill” anywhere outside my comfort zone ( I had bad experiences in hospital when I was originally ill which have increased my fear of hospitals to a huge level) so I can feel my anxiety already building but your blog has some useful points in it! I’m lucky to have a very understanding partner and with the help of my anxiety pills I’m hoping this will be a holiday to remember! I will let you know!

    • Thanks Jude – it sounds like have had quite the health journey! It’s great that you have a supportive partner – this can make such a big difference. I completely understand the excitement versus fear picture when it comes to holidays, but I’m sure you will have an amazing time! Wishing you a lovely holiday.

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