Try These Lifestyle Tweaks to Ease Symptoms of Fatigue
You don't know from tired until you've dealt with a condition like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — up to 98 percent of people with RA report energy-sapping fatigue, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Debilitating exhaustion is also common with conditions like fibromyalgia, depression, and, of course, chronic fatigue syndrome. Fatigue is a common complaint that drives people living with these diseases to the doctor, but it turns out that a few little lifestyle changes can go a long way toward boosting your energy level and helping to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Try these tips to feel like yourself again.
Ask Your Doctor to Rule Out Medical Causes of Fatigue
Your doctor will evaluate your condition and order tests as necessary. "If you suffer from chronic fatigue, the first step is to see a doctor to rule out a treatable medical problem, such as anemia," advises Elizabeth Araujo, MD, a rheumatologist at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen in Germany. "If you have a chronic condition, like fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, work with your doctor to make sure the disease is being treated and controlled properly." Get the appropriate blood work and make sure you aren't having a reaction to any medication.
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Get Enough Sleep, Consistently, to Help Fight Fatigue
Fatigue can be one of the most difficult aspects of living with a chronic illness. "Sleep that is deep and restorative and in the range of seven to eight hours a night is ideal to help replenish important neurochemicals, like natural endorphins [pain modulators] and serotonin. Sleep also allows joints and muscles to heal and rest," explains Rochelle Rosian, MD, a rheumatologist for the Cleveland Clinic at the Solon Family Health Center in Solon, Ohio.
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Prepare Well for a Night of Quality Sleep to Fight Fatigue
If you want to get refreshing sleep that helps you feel less tired when you wake up, plan your evenings carefully. "Avoid big meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime," suggests Dr. Araujo. You should also avoid caffeine late in the day. Consider what type of media you consume in the late evening, too — stimulating television shows or upsetting movies may disrupt rest. And keep in mind that while a nightcap may help you fall asleep, it's likely to cause you to wake up later and distract you from a restful night. Finally, consider going to bed earlier, so that you can wake up earlier and ease into your day at a more leisurely pace.
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Exercise for More Energy and Better Sleep to Fight Fatigue
Regular exercise not only boosts your energy, it makes it easier for you to fall asleep at night. "Engage in daily low-level exercise, such as gentle stretching and walking. Exercise will help with stress and improve sleep, as well as help maintain strength, balance, and flexibility," says Dr. Rosian. The best time to exercise to fight fatigue is early in the day; avoid exercising in the evening because the stimulation of exercise can interfere with sleep. If you only have time to exercise in the evening, Araujo suggests stretching or yoga.
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Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet to Help Fight Fatigue
A nutritious diet can help energize you throughout the day. A diet high in fruit, vegetables, and grains is best, including other food groups — dairy, meat, and oils — in moderation. “It's important to remember that an ideal body weight is best for the weight-bearing joints, especially the knees, feet, and ankles,” says Rosian. "I’m not a big fan of fad diets. I believe that moderation is critical when it comes to diet and exercise."
Step Into the Sunlight to Reset Your Body Clock and Help Fight Fatigue
One way to fight fatigue is to pay attention to your internal clock. Sunlight delivers vitamin D and tells your brain and body when to get active. For some people, the dark winter months can be the hardest time to fight fatigue due to the short days and lack of sunshine. Besides bundling up and getting outside, fight winter fatigue by arranging your home and office environment to allow for maximum sun exposure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of sunlight every day.
Maintain a Healthy Weight to Help Fight Fatigue
Obesity has been called an epidemic in the United States, and it’s affecting young people as well as adults — one-third of children between 2 and 19 are overweight or obese. Being overweight isn't just bad for your body and your self-esteem, it’s also bad for your sleeping patterns. Being overweight has been shown to contribute to sleep disorders and to low energy levels. Fight fatigue by cutting back on calories, especially sugary beverages and other sweets, and increasing your exercise. If you’re concerned about your — or your child’s — weight, talk to your doctor about creating a weight-loss plan.
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Change the Way You Respond to Stress to Help Fight Fatigue
One of the most common causes of fatigue is stress, but the way you respond to it can make a difference in the effect it has on you. Even if you can't avoid stress in your life, try to deal with it in a constructive way. Learning relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, tai chi, and self-hypnosis, will lessen stress and keep those tired feeling at bay. "A daily walk or a yoga class can also help you reduce stress, control your weight, and fight fatigue," advises Araujo.
Experiment With Complementary Wellness Approaches to Help Fight Fatigue
Aromatherapy is one example of an complementary remedy that may be used in addition to traditional treatment. It uses the essential oils from plants and other sources to lessen the effects of stress and promote well-being. The oil is usually diluted and either rubbed into your skin or inhaled. Some laboratory studies performed on animals suggest that essential oils can be effective in promoting energy. Essential oils, such as those made from geranium, lavender, and cedarwood, may send chemical messages to your brain that improve your mood and help you to feel more relaxed and energized.
Be Good to Yourself to Help Fight Fatigue
If you have a debilitating disease, like rheumatoid arthritis or chronic fatigue syndrome, or if you've just been pushing yourself too hard, you need to accept feeling a certain amount of fatigue. Getting frustrated and angry about being tired only worsens fatigue. Consider making accommodations in your work schedule, or at least counter some of the time spent at work with activities that bring you joy and satisfaction — compromise and balance are necessary. "People who stick to a sensible schedule and a regular regimen do better at fighting fatigue in the long run," says Rosian.
- Last Updated: 05/17/17
- Last Updated: 05/17/17