Turn Down the Volume & Allow Recovery

by | Mar 3, 2023 | BHC News, Long COVID, ME/CFS, Patient Education, Provider Education

This blog post covers the sixth chapter of the ME/CFS Crash Survival Guide. The information provided can also apply to individuals with long COVID and other multi-system chronic complex illnesses that have a PEM component.

Click here to download the entire guidebook.

Chapter 6: Turn Down the Volume & Allow Recovery

There are many environmental triggers and stimuli that can precipitate and/or prolong crash recovery. Try to minimize all energy demands, sensory and physical stimuli, and allow your body the space to restore and recharge.

The following provide supportive interventions and considerations to take into account while you recover from a crash.

Sensory and environmental stimuli

  • Sight/visual
    • Eye mask
    • Tinted lenses
    • Hat with visor (to block overhead light)
    • Light blocking curtains
    • Dim electronics (put in nighttime mode)
    • Blue light reflective glasses (for phone and computer use)
  • Sound
    • Earplugs
    • Noise-cancelling headphones
    • Noise machines (blue, red, pink, brown, white noise)
  • Touch
    • Loose clothing
    • Non-abrasive linens and bedding
    • Be mindful of contact with perfumes, colognes, detergents, dyes, cleaning products.
    • Weighted blanket (deep pressure can be soothing, or it could be too much)
    • Be mindful of positional pressure points.
  • Odor
    • Keep cooking odors to a minimum.
    • Ask caregivers and visitors not to wear perfumes or utilize body care products with fragrance when visiting.
    • Avoid odorous plants, trees, candles, scented products, etc.
    • Use low or non-perfumed soaps and detergents.
    • Avoid chemicals as much as possible. Consider natural or plant-based products.

Cognitive processing and brain events

  • Minimize cognitive demands.
  • Limit reading, speaking, texting, processing TV shows and media. * Try to avoid making any big decisions during a crash.

Emotional stress/stressors

  • The crash itself can be emotionally draining, however, it is important to avoid or minimize contact with triggering stimuli.
  • Avoid engaging in emotionally charged conversations, movies, shows, social media or news.
  • Keep in mind positive and negative emotions both utilize energy.

Physiological fluctuations

  • Body temperature may fluctuate when in a crash, so have layers to put on and take off.
  • For body positioning, make sure you have support for the spine and limbs to prevent muscle tightening, soreness, or poor circulation.
  • For headaches and symptoms of neuroinflammation, consider using compresses for eyes and ice caps for the head.

Orthostatic stressors

  • Being upright can drain energy stores and exacerbate the crash itself.
  • If you must be upright during your recovery, utilize orthostatic supports.
  • Compression clothing (be mindful of creases and indents)
    • Try to cover as much surface area on the body as possible.
      • Thigh-high or above (abdominal) compression clothing have been shown to be the most helpful.
      • Consider compression tops to account for arms and abdominal surface area.
  • Rehydration solutions
  • Saline IV fluids (ordered by your provider)
  • Salt food liberally unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider.

This blog post covers the sixth chapter of the ME/CFS Crash Survival Guide.
Click here to download the entire guidebook.

The information provided can also apply to individuals with long COVID and other multi-system chronic complex illnesses that have a PEM component.


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