How I apply Permaculture principles to my CFS/ME recovery

Find out how two of the key Permaculture Design Principles remind me of some of the simple CFS/ME recovery techniques that I apply.

Permaculture is a beautiful philosophy and a technique for sustainable food production and community culture.

The term was originally coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren (two top Aussie blokes!).  It means ‘permanent agriculture’ and is quite opposite to the massive agricultural industries that are generally monoculture (single species) and annual crop dominant (constant work!).

Permaculture is about food production that encompasses a diverse range of foods, mostly perennial, all interlinking with one another to allow nature to do most of the work for us.  The Permaculture movement has broadened over time to encompass sustainable culture principles (communities living sustainably).  Check out the video below for a lovely overview of Permaculture by Penny Livingstone-Stark.

Not only does Permaculture aim to teach us how to work with nature rather than drawing endlessly from the earth’s resources, but it also looks to conserve human energy needed to manage food systems.  Yay for that!

If you were lucky enough to have a Permaculture system set up at your place before you got ill, well that would be fantastic and nature could be doing heaps of the work for you.  But for most of us, that is probably not the case so you may be thinking that this is totally too much for you right now.  I understand.

What I wanted to share with you is how I think that some of the Permaculture Design Principles(published by David Holmgen in Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability – above) offer some parallels for those of us recovering from CFS/ME – namely:

Principle 1 –  Observe and Interact and

Principle 2 –  Catch and Store Energy.

David Holmgren’s Permaculture Design Principles' images

Observe and Interact

This is key to Permaculture Design.  By slowing down and observing we can see how nature responds with human intervention and see what works and what doesn’t.  No use expending all your energy to find out something is simply in the wrong place.

I was also able to find patterns when I slowed down and became a little more observant.  I’ve found that routine and recording helps me, as it is definitely a trial and error game.

I record things like what I do, what I eat, how I feel emotionally and physically.  No-one knows me better than I know myself and keeping tabs certainly helps to identify personal patterns.  Over time I’m able to see what works well and what doesn’t.

The CFIDS and Fibromyalgia Self-Help Website has some great recording resources free of charge or you might like to design your own like I did, feel free to start with mine and change it to suit your needs

A good thing to remember, to help stay positive about recovery, is that going backwards is not something to fear.  Under observation it can be seen as an opportunity to take note of what may have contributed and try things that you think may help.  Just be sure to keep daily records so you can start to identify any patterns.

I’ve also found that small tweeks are often better than large assaults…Doh!  Pretty tough at first as I’m more of a ‘guns blazing’ kind of gal.  But, over time, I’ve had more success with doing small things regularly than making big changes too quickly.  My body responds better to the slow and steady approach, just takes a bit of discipline and patient….two fantastic characteristics you too can develop while recovering from CFS/ME 🙂

Catch and Store Energy

The earth has built up a huge store of energy over millions of years in forests, which in time become coal, gas and oil.  In the past 200 years we have done a fantastic job of severely cutting into the planets energy nest eggs at unsustainable rates.  These demands that we are putting on the earth seem to be a reflection of the go, go, go lifestyles many of us now lead with very little regard for setting limits or pacing ourselves.  Does the comment “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” ring a bell?

This disregard for limits is something that I’ve had to learn to change during my recovery.  I’ve had to look at how I manage my person energy system.  I had a go, go, go life, unaware that I had an internal limit.  Now, like many of you, I had to find out the hard way.  Some lessons are tough, but the learnings do tend to stick better.

But the good news is that I am kicking arse on CFS/ME!  I like to look at my energy management similar to my financial management.  I can’t operate in deficit for very long, it becomes exhausting and unsustainable.  It is better for me to save a little often and slowly build up a surplus where I start to feel more secure and comfortable, then I can occasionally go to town with some spending money.

It’s the same with my energy.  I needed to concentrate on building up my bodies energy with small but varied things, while reducing those things that drained me.

I’ve put together a very simplistic diagram, and I know it is much more complex than this, but I think that it is important to keep things simple and focus on what I can do today, for myself, now.

I hope you may have found some tidbits here that help to make your life a little easier and move in the right direction, towards health and happiness. x


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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. I so relate to your approach. Thank you so much for sharing this diagram. It sums up my life pretty much too. I’ve called myslef the ME/CFS Self-help Guru, because I want to share what I’ve learned about managing this condition. Its so encouraging to find that someone on the other side of the world has found a similar path to learning how to manage this condition. I love this kind of synchronicity, it gives me great hope for a better future for all ME/CFs sufferers.

    • Good on you ME/CFS Self-Help Guru, great to hear there are others out there beating the fatigue with good old fashioned looking after yourself….oh and of course all those alternative therapies etc etc. Not quite as simple as putting ones self to bed for a day or two! LOL. Keep up the good work!

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