Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & two types of rest

In the CFS world, some talk about two forms of rest. Or, more accurately, two phases of rest.

TWO TYPES OF REST

REST FOR RESTITUTION

The first type of rest is for restitution. We spend energy through activity and then rest to recover that energy. In the best case, our body returns to where it was before the activity. In my experience, if I am in a CFS crash or an especially bad period, this phase can take a long time, maybe days or weeks, or even months or years. In a better period, it can take a day or so.

REST FOR HEALING

The second is healing rest. This is what happens when we rest beyond restitution and don’t spend that energy on activities. Here, the body can use the extra energy for actual healing, for improving beyond just recovering from daily activities.

TWO PHASES

As mentioned, these are two phases of rest. First, the body’s priority is restitution. When that’s accomplished, and there is no need to spend the energy on activities, the body’s priority is healing.

THREE WAYS TO APPROACH REST

There are a few general ways to work with these two types of rest.

MINIMAL RECOVERY AND ROLLERCOASTERING

The first is what many do at the beginning of living with CFS. We spend energy as soon as we have it. There is so much we want to do, so when there is metaphorical money in the bank, we spend it. This leads to a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, crashes and recovery. In the worst case, we can crash hard which leads to a worsening of the condition that can last for months or years.

STABILIZING AND FUNCTIONING AT A SLIGHTLY IMPROVED LEVEL

The second is to take enough time for restitution rest and some healing rest to stabilize. This, in itself, is an improvement in our condition, and it can lead to functioning at a slightly better level. Since we still don’t allow for regular healing rest, there isn’t too much further improvement.

SCHEDULING ONGOING HEALING REST

The third is to schedule healing rest consistently and regularly, ideally daily. In theory, this will lead to continued improvement since the body has the energy to continue healing. It’s a form of extreme rest, and I assume it takes a certain amount of readiness and intention to do it. The readiness likely comes from living with the first two approaches for a while and seeing that they ultimately are not satisfying.

MONEY METAPHOR

A money metaphor can be useful here. Our body’s energy is like money in the bank.

We can spend it as soon as it comes into our account, and sometimes more than what comes in. We can learn to have a bit in the account and not spend more than what comes in. And we can regularly spend less than what comes in so it accumulates over time.

The first is a precarious situation. The second is OK but not as good as it could be. And the third is the wise choice over time, and what many of us find we genuinely want after experiencing the two first for a while.

REST BEFORE, DURING, AFTER & EXTRA

All of this goes back to a simple guideline for CFS: Rest before, during, after, and extra.

Resing before any activity saves up energy so we have some to spend.

Resting during an activity helps us reduce the impact.

Resting after allows for restitution.

Resting extra allows for healing.

WILL IT WORK FOR EVERYONE?

Will scheduling in healing rest bring about improvement in the condition of everyone?

I don’t know. What I know is that it likely won’t hurt. It’s giving our body its best chance of recovery, which is always worth it.

I suspect it will help everyone to some extent. It may lead to a dramatic improvement over time for some. And it may lead to a more moderate improvement, or perhaps just stabilization, for others .

It may depend on the cause of the CFS. The CFS label is likely used for a range of conditions caused by a range of different things.1

It would be very interesting to do a study on this. Of a group of people diagnosed with CFS, how many improve through some months of extreme rest, and in what ways and how much? How many stabilize? How many experience an actual improvement in their ability to function? Is there a difference depending on the particular form of CFS and what likely caused it in each case?

IN MY CASE

I am very familiar with the first approach to rest. It’s what I did when I initially got CFS in my teens, and also during one phase when it returned in my 30s.

I am also familiar with the second. It’s what I have been doing over the last several years.

The third is more unfamiliar to me, and something I notice I am fascinated by. My system seems to crave it. (I am strongly drawn to be in a quiet place in nature for a long time, resting). I want to bring it into my life, and it’s all about priorities and making space for it. (I do have some practical things to take care of, with a timeline set by circumstances and others, so it may be that I’ll go between number two and three for a while until I am in a situation where I can rest more fully and consistently. Although I know this is ultimately a matter of priorities. What’s most important to me?)

A FEW MORE WORDS

As usual, there is a lot more to say about it.

Our culture tends to value productivity highly. We gain value through being active and producing something. Many of us have our identity and self-worth wrapped around activity. That’s one reason it’s often difficult to rest beyond restitution. It feels wrong somehow. It’s good to be aware of this, question these assumptions, find our genuine value independent of our activities, and perhaps even redefine productivity.

For instance, just like a baby and any life, I have value independent of any activities or ability to produce. Also, if I have CFS, one of the most valuable and ultimately productive things I can do is to schedule regular extra and healing rest. It’s what gives my body a chance to stabilize and perhaps even recover and heal. Nothing is more important than that.

The rest during an activity can happen in two ways. One is to take breaks. The other is to do things slowly and avoid stress. I schedule in plenty to time. I do it slowly with slow movements. I take breaks. And so on. Also, if there is a rush, or I feel pressure or a push to do something, I typically choose to not do it if I can. It’s not worth it.

I find it helpful to minimize or avoid anything that masks the natural signs from my body. I want to be open to and in tune with any signs of having done too much, or being at the edge of doing too much. That’s why I generally avoid caffeine, and I also find it helpful to avoid too much sugar. (Not always successful in the latter but working on it. For me, it’s a matter of noticing the discomfort sugar leads to in my body.)

It’s also important to be aware that the more activities we rest from, the deeper the rest tends to be. Even listening to an audiobook takes energy. It may be fine, but silence can give an even deeper rest.

Over time, we can also do things to deepen our rest. Rest means rest from stress. The more we can minimize stress in our life, the deeper and more fully we can rest.

Stress is ultimately created by our stressful thoughts and it sits in our body. We can release some of this stress through cognitive therapy or inquiry. We can also release stress from our body through gentle movement (yoga, tai chi, Breema, etc.) and neurogenic tremors (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises).

A NORWEGIAN ARTICLE AND BOOK

Here is an excellent Norwegian article on the two types of rest. The website is for the book Aktivitetsapassing which goes in depth into this and more.

NOTES
(1) In my case, I have the classic CFS that followed mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus), I assume combined with other stressors including mold and life stress.

The image is created by me and Midjourney


SECOND DRAFT

In the CFS world, some talk about two forms of rest. Or, more accurately, two phases of rest.

TWO PHASES OF REST

REST FOR RESTITUTION

The first phase of rest is restitution. I spend energy and rest to recover that energy and (in the best case) get back to where I was before that activity.

REST FOR HEALING

The second is healing rest. We rest beyond recovery and don’t spend that energy on activities. Here, more energy is accumulated which the body uses for healing.

TWO PHASES

These two phases are different in how the body uses the energy accumulated through rest. First, the priority is restitution. When that’s accomplished, the priority is healing.

THREE WAYS TO WORK WITH THESE TWO PHASES OF REST

There are three ways to work with these two phases of rest.

MINIMAL RECOVERY

The first is what many do in the beginning of living with CFS. We spend energy as soon as we have it. There is so much we want to do, so when there is metaphorical money in the bank, we spend it. This tends to lead to a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, crashes and recovery. In the worst case, we can crash hard which leads to a worsening of the condition that can last for months or years.

STABILIZING AT AN IMPROVED LEVEL

The second is to take time for healing rest. This leads to improvement and we engage in activities at that new level. It’s a more stable phase, although we go back to spending whatever energy is accumulated through rest, so there is not much further improvement.

SCHEDULING ONGOING HEALING REST

The third is to schedule healing rest consistently and regularly, ideally daily. In theory, this will lead to continued improvement since the body has the energy to continue healing. It’s a form of extreme rest, and I assume it takes a certain amount of readiness and intention to do it. The readiness likely comes from living with the first two approaches for a while and seeing that they ultimately are not satisfying.

MONEY METAPHOR

A money metaphor can be useful here. Our system’s energy is like money in the bank. We can spend it as soon as it comes into our account. We can save and then start spending about as much as is coming in. And we can regularly spend less than what comes in so it accumulates over time.

RESTING GUIDELINE & WILL IT WORK FOR EVERYONE?

This goes back to the general guideline for CFS: Rest before, during, after, and extra. Resing before and during any activity reduces the impact and may prevent a crash. Resting after allows for recovery. Resting extra allows for healing.

Will this work for everyone? I have no idea. I don’t know how many it works for. The CFS label is probably used for a range of conditions created by a range of causes. In my case, I have the classic CFS that followed mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus), likely combined with other stressors like mold and life stress.

Here is an excellent article on the two types of rest in Norwegian. The website is for the book Aktivitetsapassing which a great book – also in Norwegian – that goes into depth in this and more.

IN MY CASE

I am very familiar with the first approach to rest. It’s what I did when I initially got CFS in my teens, and also at first when it returned in my 30s.

I am also familiar with the second. It’s what I have been doing over the last several years.

The third is more unfamiliar to me, and something I notice my system craves (I am strongly drawn to be in a quiet place in nature for a long time, resting) and I want to bring it into my life. (I do have some practical things to take care of, with a timeline set by circumstances and others, so it may be that I’ll go between number two and three for a while until I am in a situation where I can rest more fully and consistently. Although I know this is ultimately a matter of priorities. What’s most important to me?)

INITIAL DRAFT

TWO FORMS OF REST & CFS

In the CFS world, some talk about two forms of rest.

The first form of rest is restitution. I spend energy and rest to recover that energy and (in the best case) get back to where I was before that activity.

The second is healing rest. We rest beyond recovery and don’t spend that energy on activities. Here, more energy is accumulated which the body uses for healing.

There are three ways to work with these two forms of rest.

The first is what many do in the beginning of living with CFS. We spend energy as soon as we have it. There is so much we want to do, so when there is metaphorical money in the bank, we spend it. This tends to lead to a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, crashes and recovery. In the worst case, we can crash hard which leads to a worsening of the condition that can last for months or years.

The second is to take time for healing rest. This leads to improvement and we engage in activities at that new level. It’s a more stable phase, although we go back to spending whatever energy is accumulated through rest, so there is not much further improvement.

The third is to schedule healing rest consistently and regularly, ideally daily. In theory, this will lead to continued improvement since the body has the energy to continue healing. It’s a form of extreme rest, and I assume it takes a certain amount of readiness and intention to do it. The readiness likely comes from living with the first two approaches for a while and seeing that they ultimately are not satisfying.

I am very familiar with the first approach. It’s what I did when I initially got CFS in my teens, and also at first when it returned in my 30s.

I am also familiar with the second. It’s what I have been doing over the last several years.

The third is more unfamiliar to me, and something I notice my system craves (I am strongly drawn to be in a quiet place in nature for a long time, resting) and I want to bring it into my life. (I do have some practical things to take care of, with a timeline set by circumstances and others, so it may be that I’ll go between no. 2 and 3 for a while until I am in a situation where I can rest more fully and consistently. Although I know this is ultimately a matter of priorities. What’s most important to me?)

This goes back to the general guideline for CFS: Rest before, during, after, and extra. Resing before and during any activity reduces the impact and may prevent a crash. Resting after allows for recovery. Resting extra allows for healing.

Here is an excellent article on the two types of rest in Norwegian. The website is for the book Aktivitetsapassing which a great book – also in Norwegian – that goes into depth in this and more.

These are not really two types of rest, they are two phases of rest. The difference is in how the body uses the energy accumulated through rest. First, the priority is restitution. When that’s accomplished, the priority is healing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.