Extreme fatigue is so debilitating. It can be dangerous for us physically and has a negative impact on our spirits too. We all get very tired from time to time perhaps when we have young children or when we are working hard in our job. However, for some people extreme fatigue is part of their medical condition. I am so impressed with Phillipa Claire who struggles with M.E. and has generously shared her tips on fighting back when extreme fatigue comes calling.
Living with extreme fatigue
It’s no secret that I struggle with M.E. It’s one of the first things I tell people when I meet them, because I want to be open about the fact that I am tired.
If I forget things, or struggle to pay attention, I want them to know why. I’m not a bad person, I’m just tired.
For the last three years, I have been battling with excessive tiredness, and how to get through the trials and challenges of daily life when I struggle to even get out of bed in the morning. So, I thought I would share some of my wisdom with you – because low energy can affect us all, and it’s important to know how to tackle it.
I know that exercise is recommended by everyone, everywhere, for everything. You’re probably as sick of being recommended it as I am, but I’m not here to recommend exercise. Instead I suggest just moving.
If you’re tired all the time, it’s hard to find the energy to do any exercise. I REALLY find this difficult. Unlike other people I can’t just go for a run or go to the gym. Not only am I too tired to from the offset, it also worsens my symptoms the next day. I end up with sore muscles and joints, and a foggy head. Exhaustion in all senses of the word.
I have to be strategic. Most of my exercise nowadays comes from walking, because it’s just about the only thing I CAN do without negative consequences. Even when I am at the brink of exhaustion, I try to do some form of walking – whether it be walking around the corner to the shops, walking to work, or even just walking around my flat. I’ve now got a little step machine in my living room to help with this, so I can still get a little bit of exercise even when I can’t face going outside.
The effects of this small amount of moving are endless. Not only does it release all those ‘feel-good’ hormones your doctor keeps talking about, but it helps build up a bit of resilience to the tiredness. Ever heard of the phrase ‘use it or lose it’? If you don’t use your body, and move about, then it can be harder to do this when it is needed.
I’m not telling to run a marathon or go to the gym every day. All I am advising it about 5-10 minutes minimum of movement a day to keep your body going.
I used to spend a lot of my day sat on the sofa watching TV, which in a way was good for my energy levels.
On the other hand, it was terrible for my mental health, which then had a negative effect on my tiredness. I would feel more tired and more miserable because all I’d done all day was sit there watching TV and scrolling through social media. I was so unmotivated that it was hard for me to do anything at all, even things that I liked.
It’s no secret that ‘doing things’ is good for your wellbeing, even when you don’t feel up to it. Now I can’t always get up and do things like housework or go out for coffee or any other number of things people do to make themselves feel good and useful. Instead I have a list of hobbies that I CAN do that take little energy and help me feel productive and more energised after a long day.
One of these is writing (can you tell?) I can write for hours on end and feel fine. In fact, writing makes me so happy that I try to start my day with it, so I then have the energy and positivity to get on with my day whatever it may hold.
I also enjoy things like knitting, crochet, playing computer games and drawing. While I do all these things, my go to right now is writing. Your hobbies and preferences will change over time, the important thing is to always find the things that make you happy. That happiness will get you through each day, and through the less fun things that you need to do.
I bet you’re thinking ‘if you’re tired all the time, how do you find it in yourself to be positive?’
The simple answer is that I have to. If I didn’t, I would be sat wallowing in self-pity all day over something I have no control over. I wasn’t always able to, I’ll admit. It’s something that needs to be worked towards. But you do need positivity to keep you going when you have low energy, otherwise you’ll get nowhere.
One very good way of doing this is surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people. I have some amazing friends who I try very hard to see regularly, and who energise me through their own energy. These friends are like my own caffeine patches. In fact, even when I am not able to see them, I am energised simply by a WhatsApp from them. It’s that simple.
Not to mention my supportive partner, who does a wonderful job at keeping me happy and positive. He keeps me going.
If you have just one person in your life who you feel supports you, is always there to listen to you, and who makes you feel better about yourself, utilise them. Talk to them when you feel down – you don’t even have to tell them you feel down, just talk to them. That socialisation will boost you, and that boost will help you get through the day. I promise. And if you don’t you have me!
So, there we have it, three ways I keep myself going in the midst of low energy. It is by no means easy, but it is important to me to try and live as normal a life as possible and I do that by utilising my energy and doing the things I’ve listed here.
Do you have any other tips or tricks for fighting extreme fatigue?