Dr. Martina Melzer, published: 05/22/2023
Long Covid is a new epidemic. It's estimated to affect about 65 million people worldwide. More than 200 different symptoms have been described - one of the most common is fatigue. Most people recover from their Long Covid symptoms within a few weeks. Some are still not back on their feet after three months. This is where doctors refer to it as post-covid syndrome. Those who still have symptoms after more than six months and meet the other criteria may be diagnosed with ME/CFS. Stress is considered one of the biggest risk factors for Long Covid. How do you get out of it?
1. Get checked out from A to Z
From my point of view, the most important first point is: Depending on the type of symptoms, have a thorough check-up from A to Z and see the relevant specialists.
After all, it is known that Covid-19 can also lead to organ damage, for example to the lungs, heart or kidneys. On the other hand, numerous other diseases can trigger similar symptoms.
If other potential causes have been ruled out and no relevant structural damage to organs or tissues has been found, a Covid-19 infection has been present and the symptoms fit, then in my view Long Covid is a mind-body syndrome: chronic stress, trauma and adverse childhood experiences had already put the brain, mind, autonomic nervous system and body in a bad way beforehand. The virus then broke the camel's back. Stress and trauma have an impact physically, mentally, emotionally and on the behavioral level. The whole organism is now stuck in survival mode. Read more in the blog post "How Stress and Trauma Change the Brain and Nervous System" and in the strategy "Acquire Knowledge."
If organ damage has been detected in you, please understand this article only as a supplement to all conventional medical measures and therapies! More information can be found in the physician's guideline (NICE) for the long term effects of Covid-19:
2. Pacing: Know your limit
Pacing means "know your limit". People with ME/CFS are usually very familiar with this term. Maybe you have heard of it or are already doing it. Meanwhile, more and
more rehab clinics are also using pacing (at least in Germany). And even the German physician guideline recommends it.
Pacing won't cure you of Long Covid, but it can be very helpful in stabilizing your condition. It's a way to manage your daily energy and give you more power to do all the things that help you recover. The key points to pacing from my experience are:
- Finding the biggest daily energy drainers. Not only physical activity costs energy, but also emotional, mental and environmental stimuli.
- Plan: Which energy drainers can you avoid, which ones do you have to do? What do you have to do today, what this week? When do you have the most energy? Make a plan and allocate your energy that way.
- Set priorities. What is most important today? What can wait?
- Accept help: That's right, accept help! Jump over your own shadow. You can't do everything on your own now. You lack the energy. You need the current energy for your recovery. Everyone who wants to help you should be allowed to help you. Even if this person does not do it perfectly. It is good enough. Your priority now is your recovery!
3. Personal inventory of your life history
As mentioned at the beginning, chronic stress, trauma, and adverse childhood experiences lead to mind-body syndromes like Long Covid (without organ damage). So it
will probably be important to take a personal inventory.
What stressors are currently playing a role in your life and what were there in the past? For example: time pressure, high demands and little room to maneuver at work, relationship conflicts, unhealthy lifestyle, lots of obligations, pathogens, personality traits such as perfectionism, wanting to please everyone or not being able to say no.
Have there been any traumatic experiences in your life? For example: war, emotional, sexual or physical abuse, serious injuries, accidents, natural disasters, but also the feeling of not having been loved, of having felt abandoned and not wanted.
Psychotherapy is often very helpful in working through this issue.
4. Finding out what has helped others to recover
Other people's stories of success and recovery are invaluable! You can get inspiration from them about what helped them. Often, these people are also willing to
answer questions or offer tips. Some also offer coaching sessions.
Here are a few Long Covid recovery stories:
On my site:
Rebecca Tolin's channel:
Raelan Agle's channel:
Michelle Wieger's channel:
Liz Carlson's channel:
Our Power is Within Podcast:
The Cure for Chronic Pain Podcast:
5. Holistic view of your recovery
So what puts you on the path toward recovery? From my perspective, a holistic view. To what extent might stress or other experiences from your past have contributed
to getting Long Covid? What does Long Covid do to you mentally? And what would change about that if you knew "I will get well. So many have made it. I can do it too"? What is your lifestyle like?
How do you eat? What about your gut? Get an overview there and see what you can possibly change yourself and where you can get help.
Since post-covid syndrome (without structural damage) is, in my view, a form of mind-body syndrome, your symptoms are probably due to a brain and autonomic nervous system in survival mode, as I mentioned earlier. Therefore, besides the factors just mentioned, the key factor to recovery is: rebalance your brain and nervous system. Get out of survival mode, into healthy balance, into healing mode. Then your body will heal itself. Brain training and inner work are usually essential for this. You can find more about this in my recovery strategies.
Translated with help of DeepL
PS: Of course, I research and check everything I write here as well as possible. Nevertheless, I am only human and make mistakes. In addition, I may draw
completely different conclusions as someone else would. Simply because they fit my story. But every story is different.
Important: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for talking to your doctor or other therapist. The content reflects my personal experiences, research and findings that have helped me and that I therefore want to share. However, in your personal case, completely different things may play a role and other things may help. Please talk to your doctor or therapist before making any decisions that affect your physical or mental health. Also important: I don't want to convince anyone of anything here. Rather, I want to point out possible ways that can help people to overcome their ME/CFS or other syndromes.