Fatigue or low energy can be a totally frustrating part of living with arthritis. It takes some fine-tuning to figure out what activities and routines are going to help you recharge, and which ones are best left off the list. Here’s what you need to know about coping with fatigue.
Look for the source
Fatigue is often complicated—it’s not just about sleep or activity levels. Rather, it can be a complex combination of factors, so it’s important to evaluate which ones are affecting you and see what steps you can take to make things better. Main sources of fatigue include:
- weak muscles (which require your joints to work harder) and low physical activity
- inflammation from arthritis itself
- not enough sleep
- poor diet or hunger
- medications (which may cause light-headedness, drowsiness or poor concentration)
- the physical and emotional effort used to manage pain and disability
- stress, anxiety or depression
- overdoing the length or intensity of activities
Plan for quality sleep
Yes, good restorative sleep can be a mighty tricky thing, but set yourself up for success: go to bed and get up at the same time most days, and keep devices like laptops and cellphones out of your bedroom.
Water helps regulate your body temperature, keep joints lubricated and remove waste.
Do what you love
Giving up things you enjoy and spending your energy solely on work and chores just isn’t an energizing way to live. If there’s something that brings you joy, do a balancing act to fit it into your life.
Evaluate your mood
Could depression, anxiety or stress be a factor? Fatigue is a physical symptom of all three. Have a talk with your health-care provider.
Eating processed or sugary foods that cause your blood sugar to spike and then drop leads to fatigue too. And, of course, eating too much or too little can zap your energy too. A balanced diet with a variety of healthy foods is a smart choice.
Amp up the activity a bit
Gradually increasing the amount of exercise or physical activity (like household tasks) you do helps to boost your energy, stamina and mood.