For many people with autoimmune disease, fatigue is the most debilitating symptom. The fatigue from an autoimmune disease differs from the tiredness most people feel after long periods of work or exercise or when they haven’t slept well. It’s a feeling of exhaustion all the time that interferes with the ability to function.
Fatigue can be frustrating. It’s not something that your doctor can measure or test for. It’s not evident to others, but it is very real for you. The reasons for fatigue are not entirely understood, although inflammation may explain some of it. Pain, poor sleep, inactivity, and depressed mood can also contribute to fatigue.
If you get tired, it’s not a sign of weakness. Don’t try to push through it. Pay attention to your body, and pace yourself. Individuals will need to develop their own strategies for managing their energy level to accomplish daily tasks.
Here are some strategies that may help with fatigue:
Take it easy. Don’t try to do too much. If you get tired, take a nap or do something restful like reading, listening to music, meditating, or a creative activity. Schedule rest breaks throughout the day if that helps.
Plan ahead. If you have limited energy, choose the most important activities. If you have a busy day ahead, make plans the night before to make the day go easier. If you are going to attend a function and are concerned about your energy level, set aside time before and after to rest.
Inform family and friends. Tell people you are close to about your condition and explain that it can cause fatigue so they will understand if you need to cancel plans.
Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet may be helpful for anyone with an autoimmune disease. With some autoimmune conditions, you may need to follow certain dietary restrictions or special diets.
Get regular exercise. Physical activity can keep your body in good condition, which will help boost energy. Try to keep a regular schedule of exercise.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is important, but it needs to be restorative sleep. To get better sleep, practice good sleep habits.
Find support. The challenges of coping with a chronic disease can negatively affect your mood, and feeling down can negatively affect your mood, and feeling down can sap your energy. It may help to get support to deal with your emotions.