Facing up to Long Covid by Lauren Stoney

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Stuck with Long Covid? Chances are you’re familiar with the ‘fight or flight’ response and have tried everything within your power to switch it off.

For many, they’ve been back and forth to the Doctors; they’ve tried every therapy and ‘healing diet’ under the sun, and most likely will have been meditating every day but to no avail. The symptoms keep coming, and the ‘crashes’ keep hitting.

If you relate, looking at how your psychology is influencing your nervous system (aka neurology) should be next on your list – because it’s a common underlying factor in chronic pain, fatigue and increasingly, it seems, Long Covid. 

Often, when people are stuck with symptoms like these, their brain-body communication is stuck in an illness cycle. And there are certain unconscious thoughts and habits the brain will optimise, that feed into ‘illness neurology.’

Body scanning is one example where the brain jumps into ‘symptom checking’ mode, first thing in the morning … “How much pain / fatigue is my body in today?”

Revisiting the origins of the illness is another example, or it could be keeping a symptom diary. The ‘What if …?’ question pops up a lot – “What if I have a health crash again?”

Even seeing healthy people, or those older than you, living their ‘healthy’ life can act as a trigger – it reminds you of the illness and reinforces the psycho-neurological loop. 

The good thing about all of this, is that if the brain can ‘optimise’ our psychology and nervous system for illness, it can also ‘optimise’ them for health.

But there are two important points to make.

Firstly, it’s not your fault this is happening. It’s simply the brain’s way of being efficient. It experiences illness; develops a psychology to protect us, and then, somewhere along the line becomes automated. Before you know it, your brain, nervous system and body have become stuck in an illness cycle.

The second point is, just because we can influence and change symptoms through brain training, it doesn’t mean they’re ‘in our head.’ They’re physical symptoms influenced by the way in which the brain and body communicate.

For example, if you were to break your ankle you’d experience pain. In this case, the pain has come from an issue with the ‘hardware’ of your body. But, if we think about chronic pain, the hardware’s no longer a problem. It’s the software, (nervous system), experiencing issues, and this affects the whole system. 

So, if your computer has a bug; a glitch in the coding of its software we know this is fixable. And we know, we just have to recode that software to fix it.

In the same way, when there’s a problem with the software of the body there are ways of intervening to correct these issues. And psychological training is one.

So HOW do we do that? 

  1. Notice. Every time a symptom or thought about the illness shows, notice it.
  2. Redirect. Ask yourself, how do you want to feel instead. It will usually be the opposite of how you’re feeling, ie. if you’re struggling with fatigue, you may want energy. If you’re anxious about a crash, it may be trusting your body. 
  3. Train. Help your brain to access those feelings by connecting to a time when you had these feelings. Really immerse yourself in the experience.
  4. Rewire. Keep doing it. Consistency is key, because nerve pathways that consistently fire together will rewire. 

And above all else, do not lose hope. There are interventions out there that support this, chronic issues do not have to be lifelong. 

If you would like to learn more and read how I have helped Long Covid sufferers, please visit my website at laurenstoney.co.uk

Lauren Stoney

Life Crafting

07554 841 880