Making Lifestyle Changes

Sleep

Impaired sleep is common in those who have been medically unwell and those who are
experiencing stressful circumstances. Poor sleep habits and sleep deprivation can contribute to
and exacerbate both physical and mental fatigue. Managing your sleep is therefore important in
managing Post-Viral Fatigue.

  • Getting good quality sleep can help your body to repair and recover.
  • Aim to keep to your regular day and night-time routines where possible.
  • Aim to spend some time in natural daylight/sunlight during this day. This supports production of melatonin (the sleep hormone).
  • Aim for 8-9 hours’ sleep per night.
  • Daytime naps should be limited to 30 minutes maximum. Naps should not be taken after 3pm.
  • Ensure good sleep hygiene as far as possible – speak to your Occupational Therapist for more details and/or referral to Salford’s Sleep Hygiene Programme.
  • Insomnia is common in Long Covid. If this, or any other sleep disturbance is an issue, speak to your GP.
  • If you struggle with over-thinking and inability to relax; it may helpful to empty your mind and relax your body before sleeping using relaxation, deep breathing,  journaling or meditation techniques. Further Psychological support may also be beneficial.

Diet

Food is fuel. Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to and exacerbate fatigue.

  • Try to eat a well-balanced, healthy diet to give your body the nourishment it needs to return to good health.
  • Both physical and mental fatigue can occur as a result of nutritional deficiencies.
  • Limiting or skipping meals can cause fluctuations in blood sugar/glucose/energy levels.
  • A healthy balanced diet supports optimal immune function.
  • Try to keep your BMI within a healthy range – between 18 and 25. Being overweight can contribute to inflammation which stresses the body and rapidly uses up nutrients.
  • A healthy balanced diet should include: High intake and variety of plant-based foods such as plant and animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, beans, nuts, seeds and legumes; Moderate intake of seafood, lean meats and dairy; and low intake of processed or refined foods – high sugar, salt, animal/trans fats, overly processed bread or pasta, junk
    foods and fast foods.
  • You can take a regular probiotic supplement to support your immune health.

Stress

Experiencing Post Viral Fatigue and a delayed recovery from Covid can have a profound impact on you, your personal life and roles, your work life and your usual day to day routine.  It is natural to feel upset, frustrated and, sometimes guilty, however it is important to continue to look after your mental wellbeing and seek support when required, as stress, low
mood and anxiety can all exacerbate fatigue.

You may find PACING difficult to maintain if you are feeling low in mood or lacking in motivation; and this is understood and expected. Bad days are expected; do not worry. The process of PACING can be trial and error even for someone who is fully committed but it can be helpful to remember that even 1% progress per week adds up to 52% over a year! The important thing is to try to do what you can, when you can, as much as you can, in order to
regain some degree of control.


It can be helpful to identify any mental health or stress related triggers so that you can reduce or avoid these or seek support to manage them. You should also try where possible, to include social, emotional and mental rest into your daily routine and also use relaxation techniques and coping strategies where possible.


Lastly, it is important to prioritise enjoyment in order to boost your mood and, in turn, your energy levels. You should also try to stay connected to others where possible and avoid isolating yourself. There are several Long Covid support groups available across Salford which you can be linked in with.


If you are experiencing stress, anxiety or low mood that is having a profound effect on your life and/or recovery then you should speak to your GP or Therapist who can arrange for further help and support.

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