November 9, 2013

Possible Causes of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Researchers have been discovering more and more about CFS - what possibly causes it, why certain people and not others get it, and how it takes root - but they don’t have any definitive answers. Basically, a variety of causes are being investigated, any one of which may someday be shown to be the illness’s raison d’ĂȘtre. These possible causes of CFS include the following:

Your family history: If another family member had CFS (or some of the symptoms of CFS), you may be more vulnerable to getting it; however, the jury’s still out as to whether there’s a genetic link. Some people with CFS in their family history live their whole lives without getting CFS.

Stress, stress, and more stress: This possible cause can mean day-to-day mental or emotional stress or stressors such as illness or injury. You may have a genetic connection between your symptoms and the way your hormones react to stress. Basically, this hormonal reaction comes down to allostatic load (or AL for those in the know). AL measures the wear and tear your body goes through when stress rears its anxious head. Some early studies have reported that people with CFS may have a problem with the physical mechanism that generates a proper stress response, rendering them unable to react effectively to stressors (mental or physical).

Body chemistry: Humans have an amazing messenger system — one that beats FedEx hands down. Your body produces chemicals in response to messages sent to and from the brain — chemicals that don’t miss a beat when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep or hailing a cab or deciding whether to get that dress in the store window. But as good as your chemical messenger service is, it can get out of whack — whether stress, illness, or emotion is the cause. Think of this chemical imbalance as a blizzard that stops the mail from coming in, one that may or may not bring CFS with it.

Viral infections: You have a powerful immune system in your body, with antibodies and natural killer (NK) cells just salivating for some foreign virus to dare enter your cells. But unfortunately, your immune system isn’t always perfect. It can fail to attack with the full force of its fury, not recognize the virus as an enemy, or may even overreact. This whacked-out immune system has also been linked to CFS.

Sleep problems: Yes, it’s true: Whether your sleep issues are due to stress, an overtaxed and overworked immune system with no downtime to rest, or just the lack of quality sleep in general, problems with sleep have been linked to CFS.

The HPA axis: Doctors call the hypothalamus in your brain, along with your pituitary and adrenal glands, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The hypothalamus sends messages to the pituitary gland via hormonal (chemical) messengers. The pituitary gland, in turn, triggers the production of hormones in your ovaries or testes, adrenals, and thyroid glands. Some people with CFS appear to have abnormally low levels of the hormone cortisol in the blood, which means that a malfunction in the HPA axis may be a possible cause.

Inflammation: Think of an inflammation as the way your body fends off viruses and bacteria — the first line of defense in the immune system. However, chronic inflammation can break down the immune system, which may result in CFS.

Autonomic nervous system dysregulation: Your autonomic nervous system is responsible for all your critical body functions, from breathing and regulating your heartbeat to keeping your temperature on an even keel. Some people who develop CFS have an autonomic nervous system problem called orthostatic instability (OI), which means that staying in an upright position for more than a few minutes results in a feeling of dizziness; this feeling can occur when sitting or standing up. Because OI can be caused by dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system, your autonomic nervous system could somehow be involved in your CFS. However, some physicians believe that OI stands alone, a condition in and of itself; still others consider OI a symptom of CFS, not a cause.

Physical trauma: Ouch! The aches and pains of a fall or an accident can hurt your bones, muscles, and even your brain. Not only can physical pain lead to all sorts of not-so-fun things — such as insomnia, depression, brain dysfunction, or even changes on a very basic cellular level in your body — but it has also been explored as a cause, trigger, or perpetuating factor in some cases of CFS.

Ongoing infection: Sometimes the flu you caught at the office doesn’t go away in the requisite two weeks. Sometimes the infection lingers...and lingers. And instead of feeling better, you feel steadily worse. Infection has long been suspected as a cause or trigger of CFS, but researchers haven’t identified a specific virus or bacteria as of yet. It could be that by the time a person goes to the doctor after many weeks or months of symptoms, the bug is gone, leaving various forms of damage in its wake.

Environmental toxins and allergies: Pollen, dander, mercury, and lead — these damaging substances may be involved in the onset of CFS in the same way infections are.

November 6, 2013


The following suggestions help you create effective, non-threatening statements that demonstrate a positive, constructive attitude:

  • Be specific: Saying ‘When you ignore me at parties, I feel marginalized’ is the pathway to doom. Instead, ‘I felt hurt last night when you left me on my own’ is specific, direct and communicates your feelings without pointing the finger of blame.
  • Shun the ‘should’ and ‘ought’ words: When you criticize people by saying ‘You should do...’ or ‘You ought to...’ you’re concealing your own feelings about a situation and come across as self-righteous and bossy. Claim your own feelings by phrasing your statement along the lines of ‘I feel insecure when you...’. By speaking in that way you live in the moment with your feelings and express them without recrimination.
  • Leave out the labels: When you call people ‘stupid’, ‘crazy’, ‘idiot’, ‘selfish’ and other derogatory remarks, you’re putting them into negative categories and demonstrating an unconstructive attitude. Instead, comment on your feelings about other people’s behavior, not the people themselves. Seek to understand what compels people to behave the way they do and don’t judge them for their actions.
  • Avoid concealing negative You-statements under the guise of I-statements: When you say ‘I feel that you don’t care about me’ or ‘I feel like I don’t matter to you’ you’re disguising your true feelings about being scared, lonely, hurt or sad by using a veiled You-statement. It’s better to say ‘I feel unimportant’ or ‘I feel scared of being alone’, for example. Including ‘that you’ or ‘like you’ puts the onus onto the other person. Appreciating the power of your actions tells the negative impact of ‘You-statements’, whether they’re overtly expressed or disguised as ‘I feel...’ statements.
  • Include your feelings: If you want to establish an emotional connection with people – as the best communicators do – you need to allow them to understand how their behavior influences your feelings. Camouflaging your emotions creates a false representation of the real you.


In stressful situations, you need to express your thoughts and feelings in a clear, approachable and honest way that the people you’re speaking with can understand and respond to positively. Therefore, begin your sentence with ‘I feel...’ rather than ‘You should...'. In this way, you adopt an attitude that takes responsibility for your own emotions instead of dealing other people the ‘You make me feel’ guilt-trip card, which is bound to create anger and resentment.

Speaking from the I-position is a non-judgemental way of describing other people’s behavior that’s causing you difficulty, without blaming or judging the other person. It consists of four parts: your feelings; the other person’s behavior; how the behavior connects to your feelings; and what you need
to happen.

Speaking from the I-position requires a healthy dose of self disclosure, which can lead you into vulnerable territory. A potential feeling of exposure, however, is worth the discomfort if your words and attitude extinguish arguments rather than fan the flames. When people speak from the I-position they stay more connected than if they revert to name calling–even in emotionally charged encounters.

A benefit of ‘I-statements’ is that because they focus on your feelings, the other person can’t argue or disagree. You’re not blaming or holding them accountable for your emotions, you’re just telling them how you feel. When you blame people you leave yourself open to disagreement and argument.

By speaking from the I-position you’re being clear about your feelings and what you need from the other person.



Everyone has a ‘guiding attitude’, which is a way of looking at life that drives your behavior and determines your way of thinking and feeling. Whether your general attitude is positive, negative or ambivalent; your evaluation of people, objects, events and activities impacts on other people’s attitudes towards you. As a result, your attitude determines how successful you are in both your professional and personal lives.

According to the twentieth-century Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, your personality is set at birth. Your attitudes, on the other hand, are the results of direct encounters or observations and can change depending on your experiences. So although attitudes can have a powerful influence on your behaviour, they aren't set in stone, and certain influences that cause you to have one attitude may, at another time, bring about a change in your outlook. For example, to resolve conflicting inner attitudes about a political issue, you may choose to adhere to one attitude over another.

As international author and achievement guru Brian Tracy says, ‘You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.’

The attitude you send out is likely to be the one you get back. Watch the way people behave and speak if you want to spot their attitudes. For example, people who show up at work early with smiles on their faces and a readiness to volunteer demonstrate a positive attitude. On the other hand, those who drag themselves into the office late and groan about their workload are communicating a negative attitude.

You may also note that attitudes are infectious. Spend time with someone who’s upbeat and you find yourself viewing the world in a positive light. Hang out with people who are down in the dumps and chances are you’re going to end up there with them. 

November 4, 2013


From the CEO down to the lowest levels of any organization, every minute of the day; someone is making a decision that has to have an impact on the company’s performance. Sometimes, a decision is at a very high strategic level that it affects the fate of the entire organization, and other times; a decision might be narrowly defined and tactical, affecting a single person or department for a very short window of time. When taken together, these decisions make up a significant portion of the “day in the life” at any given organization, be it a company, governmental agency, or non-profit organization.

In spite of the dramatic advances in technology and tools that aid in the decision-making process, however, far too many people still make decisions the old-fashioned way: by blending a gumbo of tidbits of current information, best recollections of the past, advice from others, and a whole lot of “gut instinct,” and then assessing which path is likely to give the best possible outcome for the decision at hand.

Decisions drive organizations. Making a good decision at a critical moment may lead to a more efficient operation, a more profitable enterprise, or perhaps a more satisfied customer. So it only makes sense that the companies that make better decisions are more successful in the long run.

That’s where business intelligence comes in.

Business intelligence is defined in various ways. For the moment, though, think of BI as using data about yesterday and today to make better decisions about tomorrow. Whether it’s selecting the right criteria to judge success, locating and transforming the appropriate data to draw conclusions, or arranging information in a manner that best shines a light on the way forward, business intelligence makes companies smarter. It allows managers to see things more clearly, and permits them a glimpse of how things will likely be in the future.