9 Tips for Coping With Chronic Fatigue

My Daily Battle With Chronic Fatigue & HowI Cope.

My Daily Battle With Chronic Fatigue

If you were to ask me what Lyme symptom I struggle with the most, my answer would be fatigue hands down.

Lyme fatigue makes me feel like I am sloth trying to run through peanut butter. It does not seem like something scary until you have experienced it.

All encompassing fatigue is frightening, especially when you experience it day in and day out. It makes you feel like you cannot handle life even at its simplest causing a completely helpless feeling.

I cannot tell you how many times that I have gone into a stark raving panic because I was expected to attend an event or just simply go to church. The simple act of getting up, getting dressed and out of the house can take on marathon proportions when accompanied by severe fatigue.

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All Encompassing Fatigue is Frightening. My Life With Lyme Fatigue.

Desperate thoughts often run through my head.

I often have thoughts like, what will I do if something happens to my husband. How will I take care of my home? How will I take care of my family? It is not comforting to know that you are completely reliant on another human being.

To be quite honest, fatigue is one of the most frightening conditions that I deal with. It has the power to literally knock me flat on my back. I feel so often like a turtle who cannot get turned right side up, floundering around trying to get a grip.

With over nineteen years of experiencing chronic fatigue, I thought I would share with you the few things that have been a help to me. Notice I did not say they solved the problem, they just help to make life more bearable. I have yet to come across anything that will completely lift the dead weight of this condition.

But, in my honest opinion every little bit helps. Each bit of light in the tunnel is an encouragement.

pacing for lyme fatigue

Pacing

Work a little and rest a little this is the story of my life. My motto has become live to rest and rest to live. If I am not careful, I will completely over do and I will pay for it.

I live with a constant to do list playing in my head. This goes hand in hand with motherhood and family life.

There is always something that needs doing, a mouth to feed, laundry to be folded and in my case a lesson to be taught. I am a homeschooling mother of five so busy has been a way of life around here for what seems like an eternity. Although, busy for me might seem like normal life for someone else.

Pacing has allowed me a small sense of control over my life.

I only have “x” amount of energy in a day. On any given day that amount can vary. I can usually tell from the moment I wake up in the morning just how much energy I have to expend. If I normal person wakes up with 100 allotments of energy, then as a person who suffers from chronic fatigue I will most likely have 25 allotments or less.

I can push myself past that limit of 25 or 15 or whatever my day’s allotment might be, but if I do I will most certainly pay a stiff penalty. It has taken me a very long time to realize my limitations. If I stick within those limits, I will not be as likely to crash and burn afterwards.

I have found that there are limits in all aspects of my life, from social, mental to physical. It has helped me to write down my limits for different situations and then refer back to what I have written when I am having an especially challenging day.

These written reminders help me to put things into proper perspective. Which brings me to the second and third items on my help list prioritizing and simplifying.

Prioritizing & Simplifying With Chronic Illness

Prioritizing and Simplifying

Putting your priorities in order is not an easy thing to do, especially when you are chronically sick. Even the simple act of making a small list gives me a headache. But priorities become one of the most important things in a life filled with limits.

I know what has to be done in a day. I take the things that I know cannot be avoided and put them at the top of my priority list. Things like feeding my children, teaching them a math lesson and doing the laundry. Those things take first priority. Then, I take those same things and think about how I can simplify them.

For example, I know that dinner is a necessary event of every day life. I ask my husband to pull out my Crockpot bright and early in the morning before I have used too many energy allotments. I place the makings of dinner into my slow cooker and walk away. It is dinner simplified. I no longer have to worry about putting a hot meal on the table when the supper hour rolls around and one to do item is immediately marked off of my list.

Simplifying has become a way of life for me. With a little practice even simple activities like folding the laundry can be simplified. Which brings me to my next help, delegating.

Delegating Tasks To Others...Help Managing Chronic Illness

Delegate tasks to others.

I live with my husband and three younger children, which means I have the gift of many hands. While I understand that not everyone has a big family, most people have at least one good friend or someone they can call upon in a time of need.

I have learned to ask for help. Even when I feel embarrassed to do so, the simple act of asking for help is a life saver. My children all know how to start a washing machine, fold laundry and cook simple meals, with the exception of my five-year old.

The saying that many hands make light work it so true. I am thankful for my family each and every day. I could not do “life” without them, they are my saving grace.

Being Flexible Helps With The Management of Chronic Fatigue

Substitution and Flexibility

Life is well..life! Something unexpected can and will come up! I have learned over the years that if an unexpected twist throws a new obligation my way, then I must let something else go. It is the only way I am able to handle the unforeseen additions that life tosses my way.

Being flexible is something that has taken a lot of practice for me. I am a little bit OCD when it comes to planning. By necessity, I have had to learn to let go of that. Life never happens in a neat line, things always change at the drop of a hat. I have learned that the less I stress about the small stuff, the less flare-ups I suffer from.

Letting go and letting God comes to mind. While I still need to put this into better practice, the times I have managed to let go have proven to be beneficial to my health.

Taking the Time To Actually Rest Is Helpful in Managing Chronic Fatigue.

Taking the time to actually rest.

Throughout the day that do list I mentioned earlier can get away from me like a freight train jumping the tracks. If I am not extra careful I will barrel through my little list and not stop to breathe, all the while realizing that if I were to stop I could most certainly crash. This is bad, when it comes to managing chronic fatigue. I am so guilty of just pushing through and then collapsing.

I have found that scheduling times for rest are completely necessary to surviving this illness. Lyme disease and chronic fatigue are relentless, they do not ever take a vacation. I however, have to take a lot of mini vacations throughout the day.

One of my biggest struggles is actually resting, learning to lay aside the cell phone, the laptop and even my thoughts and truly unwinding. It is a battle to rest.

Clearing my mind is perhaps the messiest battle of them all. That running list is like a broken record. It has taken me a long time to learn to turn off the audio in my mind and close my eyes and unwind.

Deep breathing and mediation are a big help with this.

Watch Out For Sensory OverloadWhich Can Magnify Chronic Fatigue

Watch out for sensory overload.

Light, sound and crowded places hit me like a razor blade. Nothing is more tiring to me than to be in a room with loud music, a television running or a crowd of talking people. I love the peace and quiet of my own home.

I limit the trips I take outside of my home each week. I just cannot handle the stimulation of being out and about anymore. Like the saying says, there is no place like home.

Gentle Exercise is beneficial For chronic fatigue

Get Moving

The phrase energy begets energy is annoying to those of us who suffer from chronic, life altering fatigue. After all, If I barely have the energy to move my big toe, how would I gather the energy to take a walk? But, I have found, that if I take even a five or ten minute slow stroll around my home or down the sidewalk, that I do have a more healthful, balanced feeling.

Any amount of exercise, no matter how tiny it seems, can help! Being constantly sedentary compounds my feelings of fatigue, so I try to make it a point to “get moving” a little here and there throughout the day. Simple yoga poses and stretches are good for the body and soul. I by no means break the sound barrier or train for a marathon, but I do “get moving” as much as I possibly can.

Many years ago, I read an article written by a lady who was wheel chair bound. Her advice to young people fighting chronic illness was “No matter how hard it is, keep moving as much as possible because once you give in and stop completely your life is forever changed.” I have thought about that lady quite often when I am in the thick of this fight.

My daily battle with fatigue is one of the most difficult circumstances I have faced, but I refuse to give up and give in. I WILL KEEP ON, I MUST KEEP ON, I HAVE A FAMILY WHO NEEDS ME. I repeat this to myself often. It keeps me motivated to continue the fight, to dig in and really try.

Stay Hydrated to Combat Chronic Fatigue

Be sure you are drinking enough water.

This sounds so elementary, but for me I find that the more fatigued I am, I forget to drink my water. Even traveling from my chair to the kitchen is a struggle on my very bad days, so I like to keep a bottle of water by my side throughout the day. This way I stay hydrated even if I am too tired to get up and get a glass of water.

Dehydration is an exhausting condition in and of itself, so stay hydrated! It helps, believe me!

Methyl Folate To Help Combat Chronic Fatigue

Methyl Folate Supplement

I take a Methyl Folate supplement every day. It was prescribed by my integrative health doctor. I was tested for the MTHFR gene mutation several years ago, which I have. This opens me up for a plethora of health problems including a higher risk of thyroid issues, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It also contributes to chronic fatigue.

My doctor explained it to me this way, she said, “it is like driving down the road of life and you’re missing an entire lane!” This supplement over time has given me an increase in my energy levels. I would not be without it.

Life with chronic fatigue is extremely difficult.

I hope that some of these tips are helpful to you! While they are not cure-alls or miracle medicines, when you are living with debilitating fatigue every little bit helps. These just happen to be the bits that have helped me.

Until next time, keep encouraged, get plenty of rest and be well!

I Believe YouAre The Most Powerful Words You Can Say To Someone With Chronic Illness.

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32 Responses to 9 Tips for Coping With Chronic Fatigue

  1. I am sending you so much love.
    You are so strong and such an inspiration.

  2. Ava Meena says:

    Thanks for these tips – I definitely struggle with pacing. I also worry about what I would do if I lost my husband, which is why he just got a great life insurance policy. Money would never replace him, but knowing we have the policy does help ease my fears. Hope you have a restful day.

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Ava,
      Pacing is def. one of my biggest struggles, but I’ve learned it is so necessary if I want to survive this illness. Thank goodness for life insurance right? It does make me feel a little better. Thank you for your kind thoughts.
      Blessings,
      Valerie

  3. Shawn Bethea says:

    Very helpful. It’s super hard to go through life dealing with fatigue.

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Shawn,
      Thank you so much for reading and the kind comment. Fatigue makes everything hard. Wishing you all the best.
      Blessings,
      Valerie

  4. Tonya says:

    My biggest battle (and it is big) is truly resting. It’s so hard for me to relax and the truth is, I don’t want to, I want to be doing things. I was just thinking this morning is it better for me
    to schedule test whether I want to or not? OR wait till I’m so tired, I want to rest. I have no idea

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Tonya,
      I can sympathize. It is so hard for me to just do nothing. My mind is a zoo. LoL. But, I have found with my fatigue that scheduling time to rest or down time is so necessary to my survival. Hugs and hope you have a lovely week. Take care of you.
      Valerie

  5. Brenda says:

    Some of your tips could also be used by anyone. I have learned how to pace myself with trying to get things done for my blog, while not neglecting the rest of the house. I’ve also had to learn to prioritize to get things done. I’m glad there’s a supplement that can give you a little bit of relief.
    Brenda recently posted…My WeekMy Profile

  6. Kaitlyn says:

    I love this!!! I have been dealing with PPD & anxiety and it took me a long time to realize that fatigue with a big part of my problem. I finally learned how to delegate tasks to my husband and life became 1000% better. Great post!

    Kaitlyn
    http://www.mypostpartumlife.com

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Kaitlyn,
      Fatigue is so hard…especially when you have little ones. I’m so glad you have someone you can rely upon for help. It makes all the difference. Blessings and wishing you a restful week.
      Valerie

  7. Priscilla says:

    I am so glad that you are learning to pace yourself and delegate chores. Let me know when you need me to come over and wash clothes and cook a meal for you. Always glad to help. Dad & I can also run errands for you. Please, just let us help more.

    Love Mom

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Mom,
      I appreciate all you that you do. The meals that you send over are a real life saver for me. I couldn’t ask for more! I will let you know if I ever need you for errands, right now Tris is doing a great job of helping with some of that. xoxo Va

  8. Lynn says:

    Valerie, every time I read a post here, it helps me in every way. I also am struck, every time I read a post about your chronic fatigue, just how demanding it is! I really cannot imagine. Well, only a little. I think the only thing that comes close was when my thyroid had completely quit working, for who knows how long (!), and the doctors were not checking for it or finding it. Finally, finally getting thyroid medicine was like a miracle to my body. But that did cure a lot of my fatigue. I just cannot imagine if it had intensified and lasted. You do SUCH a great job at handling everything and helping others at the same time. I need to be more careful about my folate. I have that genetic mutation as well. :/ Probably ties in with my Hashi’s, palpitations, and so on. Love you bunches!! Lynn
    Lynn recently posted…A Bit of Vintage and Some Weekend Fun: Oyster BakeMy Profile

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Lynn,
      You are so sweet. Thank you for the lovely comment and for reading! I’m so glad that the articles make a little bit of sense, some days I feel like they are just one long ramble. Ha ha. I know what you mean about thyroid problems, I am finally on the right track with that one I think…I wish my thyroid med had worked for my fatigue. Maybe one day. Love you and hope you are having a wonderful sunny week.
      Val

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Great tips! I also have a family that relys on me and sometimes it’s hard juggling it all with a chronic illness. Take care <3

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Elizabeth,
      Thank you so much for dropping by and your kind comment. Managing a family while also managing a chronic illness is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Best wishes to you and hope you have a lovely week.
      Blessings,
      Valerie

  10. Amanda says:

    All great tips! It’s so hard to make ti.e to take care of yourself but so necessary!

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Amanda,
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment and for reading. You are right, making the time for our own self care is so necessary for surviving chronic illness. I am so guilty of not following this golden rule. Hope you have a lovely, restful week. Blessings, Valerie

  11. These tips are excellent! I’ve been trying to get in the habit of pacing myself, taking breaks, and delegating. It’s really hard for me, considering I wasn’t always sick and am used to being able to do it all. I made a list of all chores, broken down by room, with each task its own; that way, I can do 10-minute spurts and check each task off as I complete it. It’s working pretty well for me so far.

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Elizabeth B.,
      Thank you so much for reading and the lovely comment. I know what you mean about remembering when you were able to do it all. In my early twenties, I was like that too! Then over a period of nineteen years I have had to give up bits and pieces of my life. It is so hard. I’m glad you have found a system that works for you! Hope you have a lovely and restful week. Take Care, Valerie

  12. Kat says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Chiari malformation, and lately the fatigue has been the most crushing symptom. So hard between working 30 hours a week and being a mom to a 3 year old! I will definitely take these tips to heart.

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Kat,
      I’m so happy that the post was helpful. Chronic fatigue is a horrible thing to have to live with every day. I cannot imagine working as well. Bless you! Take care and I hope you have a lovely week. xoxo Valerie

  13. Shann says:

    Thank you for these tips! Simplify and Prioritize!

  14. I have Crohn’s disease, and I struggle with fatigue. I’ve started working from home so I can get the rest I need when I need it. These suggestions are great, and I need to especially work on hydration.

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Kerry,
      That is wonderful that you can work from home! Rest is so important with chronic illness. Staying hydrated is def. one of my biggest struggles. I literally get so tired that I forget to drink anything. My water bottle is my saving grace.
      Blessings and happy weekend,
      Valerie

  15. Jen says:

    I love this article! Sharing it! I love the way you can communicate the difficulties while still having a positive outlook!

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Jen,
      Thank you so much for the kind comment and encouragement. Hope your weekend is lovely.
      Blessings,
      Valerie

  16. Lisa Ehrman says:

    These are great ideas and I struggle with most of them. My goal is to let God take my worry, as you mention, but it’s a daily chore. It’s hard to not be negative when everything hurts. I’m going to look into the folate supplement you mentioned. Does it interact with medicines?
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • ValerieB says:

      Dear Lisa,
      I know exactly what you mean about it being hard to keep positive when you are in constantly in pain. I’ve never had a problem with the folate interacting with any of my meds. However, I would always check with your doctor before starting anything new. Wishing you all the best! Valerie

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