Take a minute to think back to a really long exhausting workday. Do you remember how exhausted you were and how much you just wanted to get into bed? Now imagine having to repeat that same exhausting shift every day for a month with minimal rest. Exhausting right? Well, that is a small fraction of what it is like to live with chronic pain! When you have chronic pain it doesn’t matter how much coffee you drink or how much sleep you get you will mostly always be tired. Your body is always fighting the pain so you are always tired! Living with fatigue gets old pretty fast and to be honest, I am sick of being tired all the time because all I want is to be able to sleep and feel well-rested. Somehow that never happens and I always wake up tired no matter how much sleep I get. When you are always tired it often times can make you feel frustrated and sometimes depressed so today I am going to give you a few coping strategies to help you get through chronic fatigue. I hope this helps!
Stick to a sleep schedule- When you have chronic pain you will have no control over whether or not you sleep four hours or twelve hours but if you stick to sleep schedule you can give yourself the opportunity to get more sleep. If you are going to bed at 3 a.m. because you planned to sleep in you may find that sometimes that doesn’t happen and you wake up early and sleep-deprived because of pain. If you just went to bed a little bit earlier you wouldn’t be as tired. Sleep deprivation will make your pain worse so if you can stick to sleep schedule because although sometimes you may not get as much sleep as you’d like some days you will and sticking to a sleep schedule can help you stick to a routine and help you get more sleep.
Think about your sleeping environment- Sometimes the reason you may have trouble sleeping is that you aren’t in the right sleeping environment. We have ways in which we fall asleep and things that keep us awake. If you have had a lot of insomnia think about your sleeping environment because that could play a huge factor. Are you using electronics right before bed? Are you waking up with aches and pains every morning? Turning off your electronics an hour before bed and paying attention to your comfort when you wake up can help you get better quality sleep. Electronic stimulate your brain which will make you feel more awake so if you have been having trouble falling asleep putting down those electronics might be a good idea. Try putting lavender on your pillow instead because that will help promote sleep.
Diffuse Peppermint oil- Whenever I have a bad pain day and I am really exhausted and I just can’t fall asleep I diffuse peppermint oil. Although it will not do wonders it could give you a little extra boost so you can take on the rest of your day.
Light exercise- Sometimes there is a confusion that chronic is caused by lack of physical activity. Exercise has a lot of benefits but it won’t cure you have your chronic pain because sometimes our doctors don’t even know what is causing our pain. Some people with chronic pain cannot exercise but some people can it all depends on the individual and the extent of their pain! If you can you want to remain as active as possible IF you live with pain sticking to low-intensity routines like Pilates, Yoga or walking maybe your best option for keeping your pain bearable. Exercise increases endorphins which will give you more energy to do more things so even if it’s only for ten-minutes that is better than doing nothing at all.
Pacing- On a good pain day, it can be so easy for a chronic pain sufferer to overdo it because we feel great and we convince ourselves we can do more! Maybe that’s true but if you aren’t careful and overexert yourself you could be setting yourself up for quite a few bad pain days! When you have chronic pain you need to be a planner on good pain and on bad ones because that will set you up for success. Make a list of all the tasks you want to complete and stick to it! If you feel you can do more then you can always add to it but don’t feel you have too. Those tasks will always be there tomorrow so you don’t always feel like you need to do everything in one day just because you feel good. Some days you may not be able to do much of anything and that is okay. Take a break and pick it up tomorrow.
Smile- You may not be able to change your situation but you can change your attitude about it! Being positive when you live with chronic pain is difficult but you have to do your best to try. You can make your day a little bit brighter by simply changing how you look at your situation. No one wants to be around someone who is constantly feeling sorry for themselves so don’t and make a list of all the positive things that have come of your situation. You will have bad days but you will also have good ones so makes the best of those days! Don’t hang around people who don’t support you because that negative energy will have a huge impact on your life. Make a list of all the positive things that have come of your situation that may help you see things from a different perspective and make you happier.
Take naps– When you live with fatigue naps won’t do miracles and get rid of your fatigue but it could be what your body needs. Personally, I sleep better during the day than I do at so I am not one to judge people who take naps but I highly encourage it! Power naps that are fifteen-thirty minutes long can help you recharge so you have the energy to take on the rest of your day. Chronic pain sufferers have a love/hate relationship with sleep and sometimes we will go weeks and have an average of four hours of sleep a night. If you see us sleeping please don’t wake us unless something is on fire or it’s incredibly important and cannot wait. When we are finally able to get good rest there is no telling when we will get sleep like that again and it’s not as easy to fall back asleep then you would think.
Drown out the negativity of others- The negativity of others can sometimes bring a person with chronic pain down and make them feel like they can do so much more when they can’t. I get so mad when people who don’t live with chronic fatigue compare their tiredness to my fatigue because it is not even in the same ballpark! You are the only one that truly knows what you’re capable of so drown out the negativity of others and do what you know needs to be done. Your peers may mean well but they aren’t always helpful in giving the best tips because after all, they aren’t the ones living with fatigue!
Chronic fatigue is nothing like being tired all the time but unfortunately, most people who don’t experience chronic fatigue don’t understand than and think the ultimate cure is to take a nap or drink more coffee. Chronic fatigue makes it so you have a love/hate relationship with sleep so you don’t always have the energy to do the things you love because of that sleep deprivation. People with chronic fatigue sometimes have no choice but to rest even if we don’t want to! Never be ashamed to rest because sometimes it’s a necessity for recovery! Chronic pain sufferers, how do you manage chronic fatigue?