As we have discussed, navigating your way through life with chronic fatigue can be difficult. Unpredictable symptoms make it hard to stick to plans, meet your commitments, and attend to your body’s needs. Below, we offer some general tips for managing daily life with chronic fatigue. We will build on these tips further in future weeks.
- Avoid doing too much. Don’t take on too much or try to overcompensate for the times you’ve been unwell. Feeling like you have to perform better or make up for lost time will just add to your stress and worsen your chronic fatigue. If you are doing a good job, that is enough. There’s no need to aim for perfection.
- Monitor and manage your stress. Throughout the day, try to check in with yourself. If you’re feeling tense or overwhelmed, this may signal the need to take a break. This can be hard to justify when you’re busy, but it is likely to boost your productivity in the long run. Try to keep your body in a relatively calm and relaxed state as much as possible. Find stress releasing activities that work for you and do them regularly.
- Schedule extra rest around stressful events. Some events require a great deal of energy and can put you at risk of a chronic fatigue relapse. Special occasions like weddings, holidays and moving house require planning. It can help to schedule extra rest during these periods and consider limiting the amount of time you spend at events.
- Learn good sleep habits. Many people with chronic fatigue have difficulty sleeping. Perhaps you find it hard to get to sleep, struggle to stay asleep, or wake not feeling rested. Regardless of your problem, forming good sleep habits (called ‘sleep hygiene’) is essential. We will cover more on this next week.
- Reduce your procrastination. If you frequently delay important tasks or leave them to the last minute, you’re likely adding unnecessary stress into your life. A better approach is to stop delaying and start doing. Breaking big tasks into smaller steps can be helpful here. Similarly, setting yourself simple targets each day can help you get started.
- Fuel your body. A healthy diet and staying hydrated can help with your energy levels. Cut down on processed foods that are high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar. Limiting your caffeine intake may also help. Try to eat a range of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, whole grains and low fat dairy. We encourage you to seek medical advice before changing your diet.
- Reduce your memory load. If you struggle with poor concentration and memory, take the pressure off by using memory aids. This could include using a day planner, lists, sticky notes or a phone app to schedule your time and set reminders.
- Don’t be ashamed to tell others. Chronic fatigue can take a toll on your personal relationships. It is important that people close to you understand what you are going through. They may not realise how much it affects your life.
- Know your options. Get familiar with the policies and support options available to you through your workplace or study institution. This may involve speaking to HR or other support services. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for special assistance or benefits. Similarly, speak to your manager about alternative work arrangements, such as extensions, alternative shifts, or work from home options.
Seek support. If you feel able to talk to your manager or teacher about your health, this may be helpful. If they understand your situation, you may feel less anxious about completing work late or taking time off. Similarly, many organisations provide a free of charge counselling service to their employees or students. You may benefit from accessing this type of support.