Life with chronic fatigue can be plain difficult. Anything we do can easily lead to overexertion. It’s more than just being a little tired. It’s sleeping all the time and never feeling rested. It’s when your body and soul just constantly feel worn out. I have dealt with fatigue for over a decade, coinciding with my autoimmune diagnoses of ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Using my experience, I have compiled a list of 8 tips I use for coping with chronic fatigue–particularly with planning out my week.
1. Schedule Naps/Time to Rest
This one may seem silly. How am I supposed to rest when working 20 or even 40 hours a week? If you are in school or work from home, this is a little easier to manage; however, even working a full-time job, we can find 30 minutes here or 15 minutes there where we set a timer and rest. We can meditate during this time to quiet the mind (there are a lot of cool apps out now for guided meditations). We can scroll social media (I suggest following uplifting accounts and not ones that stress you out/drain your energy). We can sit there and doodle or write in a journal. Heck, we can close our door and rest our eyes for 10 minutes if needed.
Again, I do understand that this is not always possible for every person in every situation. If you are one of these people, schedule down time on your weekends. Without rest, we will burn out. It’s a guarantee. If you work 40 hours or more a week and this is a non-negotiable for you, try giving up some social time in order to recuperate. You can only run on borrowed rain boots for so long.
2. Stay Hydrated
Through trial and error, I have definitely noticed that drinking plenty of water does help with my energy levels. Am I getting up at 5:00 am and staying awake until 9:00 or 10:00 being 100% productive with my time after I drink a gallon of water in a day? That’s a big, fat nope. But my skin looks clearer and I feel like I’m not quite as bogged down as when I am dehydrated.
3. List 3 Things You’re Grateful For
Gratitude journaling isn’t just hot right now, it’s life-changing. Writing out three things you’re grateful for and writing why you’re grateful for those things can begin shifting negative thought patterns that fuel depression. Now, this is by no means a cure, but in my experience, it can definitely help.
Depression and chronic illness is often cyclical in nature with one fueling the other. Both also make fatigue worse. Treating depression can help with energy levels. If you are struggling with depression or other mental health concerns, please consider seeing a therapist and/or psychiatrist. I will write about my experiences with these professionals in a future post. Stay tuned!
4. Keep Microwavable, Healthy Meals Handy
Some people will argue that processed meals can’t possibly be “healthy,” but eating something processed is better than skipping a meal due to utter exhaustion. I really like Gardein and Green Giant (not sponsored, this is just what I like to eat on rough days to make things a little easier.) Both brands have protein bowls that take just a few minutes in the microwave and clean-up is relatively easy compared to cooking a meal. #veggies#protein#lowmaintenance
5. Make Jeggings your BFF
I adore a colored pair of jeggings paired with a cute blouse for more professional settings. Comfort helps me push through difficult days so much. Pressure on my tummy from regular pants can cause cramping and discomfort. I also tend to hold more tension in my body, the less comfortable I am. And anytime I am home, you best believe that I am wearing my comfies–often even my PJs.
6. Talk to your Doctor
Your doctor can order some tests including, but not limited to a sleep study. It isn’t uncommon for people with autoimmune diseases to have vitamin D deficiencies. I can usually tell when it’s time for my weekly, prescription strength, vitamin D supplement because I am even more tired than normal. I also had a sleep study done about a year ago, and was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnolence, which is a fancy way of saying, “You’re super sleepy all the time and we aren’t sure why.” Chronic fatigue doesn’t always have answers, unfortunately. Taking my supplements, scheduling naps, and following these other tips written here help though.
7. Pick 3-5 Priorities
I recently picked up a new planner that has weekly priorities. I write down three things that absolutely must be accomplished that week. Everything else on my to-do list is just icing on the cake. If other things get done, great. If not, then there is always next week. Prioritizing daily and weekly tasks has made a huge difference in managing my stress levels, which in turns helps with my energy.
8. Do Anything that Soothes Your Soul
Journaling, talking with a friend, meditating, reading a good book, baking cookies, watching a movie where you empathize with the characters and maybe even cry–the possibilities are almost limitless! When our souls are well-rested, it’s easier for our bodies to be well-rested.
Do you have any tips that you use to prepare for a week with chronic fatigue? Let me know in the comments below!