Last updated: March 2023
There is nothing like dragging through your day just trying to make it to your next moment. One of the hardest symptoms of lupus for me has been fatigue. Fatigue that hits you out of nowhere and zaps every bit of strength and energy is the absolute worst.
Fatigue can make it hard to get through the day and can have a significant impact on our quality of life. It can be frustrating, tiring, and make it difficult to do the things we enjoy. Being completely exhausted is frustrating, especially when you try to manage it with traditional treatments like rest and relaxation but still don’t see any improvement.
While this can be frustrating, there are some things you can do to help manage your fatigue. But first, let's explore what types of fatigue happen as we manage lupus.
Types of fatigue
There are 2 types of fatigue that can occur with lupus: physical and mental.
Physical fatigue is the result of your body not having enough energy. This can be caused byseveral things like anemia, pain, or other draining physical symptoms.
Mental fatigue is when you feel tired even after getting enough sleep. This can be caused by the stress of dealing with lupus.
Tips for managing fatigue
Get enough sleep
This may seem not easy, but it’s important to aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I have found getting enough sleep is important for managing both types of fatigue. It has also been proven how important sleep is for our overall health and well-being. Here are tips to help ensure you get a good night’s sleep:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This could include reading, taking a bath, or listening to calm music.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and comfortable.
- Try not to nap too long during the day.
If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. There are a number of treatments that can help, including medication, therapy, and relaxation techniques. We all can agree that getting enough sleep is essential for managing lupus and living a healthy life.
Stress can worsen fatigue, so I always try to find ways to relax and de-stress. This could include yoga, meditation, or simply spending time in nature.
- I've had to try to simplify life as much as possible. For me, that looked like delegating and letting go of some responsibilities and letting go some stressful relationships. Very hard things to do but completely necessary for me to take care of myself.
- I had to make time for myself every single day. I found ways to steal time to do things I enjoyed. The simple things like reading a book or taking a walk are lifesavers for me.
- I learned to reach out to a support system. I spoke to family, friends, and therapists and even created a support group for those with lupus. Talking to others who understand what you’re going through can be a huge help. Stress is a major trigger for lupus fatigue, so by reducing it I was able to help reduce some fatigue.
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a balanced diet helps to improve energy levels. I found if I included plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, I had less bouts of fatigue.
There are a few ways that eating a healthy diet can help with lupus and fatigue:
- Eating a balanced diet helps to ensure that our body is getting all the nutrients it needs. I found this can help improve your energy levels and overall health.
- Eating healthy can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body and help to avoid triggers that cause flares. This can be extremely helpful in managing lupus symptoms and reducing fatigue.
- Eating healthy can help us maintain a healthy weight. This is important because carrying extra weight can put added stress on the body and make fatigue and flares worse.
Exercise can help boost energy levels and improve overall health. However, before starting any exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor. They can help you create a safe plan that fits your needs and abilities.
For me, exercise has become a most important part of helping to manage lupus and fatigue. It helps to reduce pain and stiffness and improve my mood. Additionally, I've found that regular exercise helps to reduce lupus flares.
While it may be difficult to muster up the energy to exercise when you’re feeling fatigued, it is worth it to make the effort. I always start with small goals and build up from there. Ultimately at the end of the day I am so glad that I moved my body and created endorphins that made me feel better.
When you’re feeling fatigued, take a break and rest. This could mean taking a nap or simply sitting down and putting your feet up for a few minutes.
One of the best ways I found to manage lupus fatigue is to take regular breaks throughout the day. This helped me to avoid feeling overwhelmed and ultimately gave my body a chance to rest.
It's always important to take a few minutes to yourself every couple of hours. I have been amazed at what a difference it made in my day. Taking a walk, listening to music, or just sitting quietly and being in my now, all gave me the opportunity to take some time to recharge before becoming overwhelmed.
Fatigue and lupus
Lupus fatigue can be caused by a number of factors, including the disease itself, medications, other health conditions, and lifestyle choices. Luckily, there are things we all can do to manage lupus fatigue and feel our best. Some of the tips mentioned won't totally remove fatigue, but they can help to lessen the bouts of fatigue that take us out on our lupus journey.
If you are struggling with fatigue, talk to your doctor. They can help you identify the causes of your fatigue and develop a treatment plan that can dramatically improve your quality of life.
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