The fatigue associated with fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions is much more than just feeling tired. It’s not a case where you just need to drink some coffee and push through. The fatigue of fibromyalgia is all-encompassing—and attempting to push through will only lead to more fatigue. However, there are things you can do to minimize the fatigue associated with fibromyalgia, both shortening the duration of fatigue flares and decreasing how often they happen.
1. Plan regular rest days to help decrease fibromyalgia fatigue.
Often, you can avoid fatigue flares altogether by pre-emptively giving yourself breaks. This means allowing for time to rest throughout the day, whether it’s lying down for a nap or taking moments throughout the day to pause and meditate. Try to plan for one day off each week where you do nothing but focus on self-care: sleep late, take a warm bath, and curl up with your favorite blanket and a book or favorite TV show. By scheduling regular down time, you can reserve your strength and have more energy for activities the rest of the week.
2. Listen to your body and pace yourself to limit fibromyalgia fatigue flares.
Pacing is the process of listening to your body and stopping activities before you are completely worn out. Learning to understand when your body has had enough is a key step in minimizing the fatigue of fibromyalgia. You won’t always be able to catch it and you won’t always be able to stop going when you do feel the need. But by doing your best to pace yourself throughout the day, you can limit fibromyalgia fatigue and stay in control of your energy.
3. Rehydrate to improve your energy when fatigue takes over.
Hydration is one of the first things you can do to help decrease fibromyalgia fatigue. Dehydration has been connected to increased levels of fatigue in those with chronic illnesses, along with many other symptoms common to fibromyalgia, like weakness and confusion. Hydration is about more than just drinking water or liquids; it’s about maintaining proper levels of electrolytes. Many online or health stores carry electrolyte powders, which you can add to water or any preferred beverage to help improve your hydration. If you’re experiencing frequent dehydration, talk to your doctor about other ways to balance your electrolytes and stay properly hydrated.
5. Minimize interactions when you feel fatigued to maintain the energy you have.
On days when fatigue is overwhelming, even simple interactions with other people can drain what little energy you do have. When fatigue takes over, your mood can take a turn for the worse; you are quicker to react and have less patience with people. On days like these, try to stay home and rest, and limit your interactions with people as much as possible—even online. You may find it re-energizing to find a nice, quiet space in your home where you can rest and focus on feeling better.
6. Don’t give into sugar and carb cravings when you are feeling fatigued.
On days when the fatigue of fibromyalgia takes over, you may find comfort in food, particularly those high in carbs, fat and sugar. They may taste good in the moment, but these foods are more likely to lead to a crash—making your fatigue even worse. Instead, eating a healthy diet rich in protein and vitamins helps keep your blood sugar even, avoiding spikes and crashes that leave you feeling tired. Fill your plate with lean meats, high-fiber fruits, and nutrient-rich vegetables to fuel your body and give you the most energy possible to push through the day.
8. Take the day one step at a time—every step is a win when fatigue takes over.
On days when you are dealing with a fatigue flare, remember you are not being lazy. You are taking care of yourself. It’s important to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and doing one simple task at a time. Don’t do anything that doesn’t have to be done. Instead, give yourself credit for what you are able to do. On mornings when you wake up with no energy, even getting out of bed counts as a win. Put a series of tiny wins together until your fatigue flare subsides and you feel ready to get back on your feet—both literally and figuratively..