These tips can help lupus patients combat fatigue and exhaustion. Check them out!
Fatigue is a state of being tired resulting from mental or physical exertion or an illness. It is defined as a lack of energy and motivation. Fatigue does not meant that you're drowsy, but you may need to sleep or nap to get rid of this feeling.
Almost 20% of Americans claim that they are so fatigued that they cannot live a normal life. Physical causes are responsible for fatigue up to 60% of the time. Emotional or mental fatigue is also a cause of fatigue. Normally, fatigue is relieved when you take a nap or stop physical or mental activity for some time.
When you have lupus, you suffer from intense fatigue at various times during your illness. A nap is nice, and it may help.
“When lupus hit, it was like running into a wall at 80 mph,” says Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D., a broadcast voice specialist in Virginia who was diagnosed with lupus in 2006. “I had been very active my whole life, and the fatigue just knocked me flat. Most days I have about four good hours.”
Medical researchers are not sure why lupus causes fatigue. It might be caused from another condition, like fibromyalgia. It may be from anemia or depression. If you are on medications for lupus, these medications can also cause fatigue.
Ways to Combat Fatigue if You Have Lupus
There are activities you can try to find the energy to get through your day. These may help:
Try exercising to boost your energy. Working out may not be what you want to do if you are tired, but it can raise your energy levels. It is essential to get as much exercise as you can. Take a short walk, or do an exercise routine, but do what is right for you. Your body will be your guide.
Attempt yoga poses. Yoga may be effective for you and help you boost your energy. Researchers in a medical study offered yoga instruction to women who had lupus. At the end of six months, these women reported an increased boost in energy levels.
Drink plenty of water. When you are thirsty and dehydrated, your energy is zapped. Dehydration will also intensify the pain and alertness problems of lupus.
Maintain a healthy diet. Sometimes it helps by eating smaller meals more frequently during the day. Your blood sugar levels may be steadied, and you will feel energy from the foods you eat. Watch portion sizes, if you eat more often. Avoid sugary snacks that can cause fatigue.
Sleep at least seven to eight hours each night. Develop good sleeping habits. Relax before going to bed. Sometimes a warm bubble bath helps. Don’t drink alcohol or food and drinks that contain caffeine before bed. Read a book, and don’t watch TV before you go to bed. If you can’t sleep, plan to take a nap the next day.
“I can’t go out on a work night like other people my age. If I don’t get at least eight hours of sleep, I’m useless the next day,” says Brown. “So if there’s something I want to do in the evening, I have to plan for it by setting aside time to sleep the next day.”
Naps are essential. Don’t feel guilty if you need to take naps during the day. You may need short rest periods to get through your day.
Kristiana Page, author of “Why I Mentally Struggle with Justifying My Napping”, writes about her guilt when feeling exhausted. She writes, “Each time I find myself thinking about taking a nap, I have a flashback of lying on the couch in my living room in 2016, watching TV. On the way home from work, I had planned a short list of things I wanted to accomplish in the evening, but I took a moment to sit on the couch. I soon found myself stuck lying there for hours. A “Law & Order” marathon was on, and I remember thinking about just how sick I was of watching pictures flash across a screen, how sick I was of being stuck in a state that was almost like conscious sedation.” Kristiana is causing herself to feel mentally exhausted. She doesn’t realize, yet, that napping is a crucial part of taking care of yourself when you have lupus.
Others with lupus know that their disease will not just go away. They see napping as something that will help heal their body. Remember the Spoon Theory? The Spoon Theory explains why you need to plan and ration your energy reserves.
The theory goes like this: You have five spoons for the day. You use three of these spoons getting dressed, fixing breakfast and doing small chores. Now you have two spoons of energy to do something else for the day. It may be going to work, shopping, cleaning, or running errands. Your spoons are depleted sometime during the day. Plan to take a nap to replenish your spoons to have the energy to do more activities or get through the evening.
The moral of the story? When you have a chronic, exhausting and painful illness, it takes planning to get through your life.
Prioritize your activities. Keep an activity schedule for the things you need to do day-to-day. Plan for the things you need to do but rest between your chores. When feeling rested, work on things that are difficult for you. Break projects into small tasks. Above, all, be flexible. Don’t force activity, do what you can and when you can.
Keep a diary to track your day. When you write something down, you learn what types of activities you can do. For example, if you feel terrible when you vacuum, ask someone to help you. It helps to have a support system and keep a diary to track your progress.
Avoid stress. If you have activities you know will be stressful, don’t do them unless you are feeling rested. Add relaxing activities into your day when you have lupus.
Kristiana had to learn that the stress she felt each time she needed a nap, was not a time to feel guilty about the hours she loses. She had to learn the inevitable – she needs naps. She says,“The thing is that I know how important naps are for someone with lupus, and I know that, ironically, they’re the key to being productive. Yet, I still struggle to justify them to myself nearly every day.”
There is no known cause for lupus, but it is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. Lupus can damage many parts of the body, and if you have lupus, you know it can be exhausting.
Fatigue can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life. It hinders the ability to function at home and work. Studies done through clinical trials established by the Lupus Research Alliance explore ways to manage fatigue. One researcher has said, “I will not stop trying to find a way to increase energy for those who have lupus.”
Managing fatigue for those with lupus will be an incredible advancement in the treatment of this autoimmune disorder.
In the meantime, try napping, it can be refreshing.