The most effective approach you can take when dealing with your fatigue is to be aware that fatigue is a part of fibromyalgia, and that you might have to adapt your schedule. Do not look at your fatigue as a sign of personal weakness or try to deny it. It is simply one more symptom of fibromyalgia that you can learn to handle.
Lots of Fibromyalgia sufferers have to adjust their daily schedules, starting their days an hour or two later. This makes it easier to deal with morning stiffness and may also enable you to sleep longer. Ultimately, the result is less fatigue and a more productive day. Other people may rest or nap in the afternoon, (I do this every day) which then allows me to continue my daily activities without feeling totally exhausted at the end of the day.
It is a well known fact that you should avoid eating heavy meals, especially in the evening. Instead, opt for a light lunch, perhaps with a healthy morning and afternoon snack thrown in. I went on a 5:2 fasting diet at the beginning of lockdown and lost 2 stone and I now find it very easy to keep it off by eating light meals during the day and evening and I never have anything to drink or eat after 8pm, apart from water.
Rest is crucial. But doing too little can often lead to you feeling even worse which makes you feel more fatigued. Moderate exercise keeps your muscles and joints in condition, and has the added benefit of helping you sleep better at night. I try do walk between 5000-7000 steps a day as I find that is enough and will not irritate my back. Any more than that then I seem to be in a lot of pain.
A good night’s sleep is an essential part of my pain management strategy and I find if I’ve had a few bad nights due to pain then it knocks me out for days.
A lack of restful sleep is a problem shared by lots of people and not just Fibromyalgia sufferers and is caused by a variety of factors: stress; depression; caffeine, alcohol or drugs; not allowing enough time for sleep; and of course, pain. When you are in constant pain it may keep you from falling asleep easily, or it may awaken you during the night. Research has shown that some people with Fibromyalgia experience light, easily disrupted sleep with many mid-sleep awakenings.
There are several stages of sleep. During the night, your brain moves between these stages in cycles, and the types of electrical brain waves generated vary from stage to stage. To feel rested, your brain requires what is called delta sleep, which was named after the brain waves that occur in the third and fourth stages of sleep. REM (short for rapid eye movement) sleep is also important. This is the stage of sleep when dreaming occurs, and without it, you will feel tired.
There may be times when you feel more fatigued than others, and you will have to deal with limitations to your energy. You need to prioritize your time and energy to work best for you. Think of your energy as a resource that you have to conserve for your most important activities. This may involve saying no to certain activities that take up too much of your energy, but in the long run this is the best way to deal with it.
Of course, saying no isn’t always easy, but it helps you stay focused on the priorities in your life, whatever they may be. When you are feeling fatigued, opting out of an activity may allow you to get the rest you need. Saying no to one activity may allow you to say yes to something more important to you.
Successful managers know that they cannot do everything themselves so think as yourself as the manager at work or home and ask for help when you need it. I am absolutely hopeless at this and slip up many times when I should have asked for help but didn’t so suffered afterwards. Borrowing from their techniques, you can learn to delegate tasks that will help you manage your activities.
You may feel embarrassed to ask for help, especially if you have always done it yourself. But, bite your tongue and ask for specific help if you need it. For example, if you ask someone to take you shopping for one hour every other Tuesday morning, you are letting them know precisely what you need. Also, you show that you understand his or her time is valuable.
Develop a pool of helpers. Spreading out the tasks keeps the burden from falling on any one person. Keep a list of friends and family and the tasks they may be willing to help with.
If you can get that little extra help it could mean you could get that little extra sleep which you will benefit from greatly. Think of sleep as the greatest healer. I do, and I am convinced it helps me even when I am at my worst.