Note: This article was reprinted on ProHealth on June 8th, 2017
Crippling fatigue is one symptom more Lyme patients have in common. Many describe the feeling as having no gas left in the tank. Each day there are tons of things you want to accomplish and not fuel to get up and go. On my worst days I resign to stay in bed, but for the other days, here are a few ways to reserve the gas left in your tank or add a few extra drops:
11 Ways to Cope with Fatigue When You Have Lyme:
1. Drink tea
Tea is widely known as a calming, soothing drink, but it can also help with fatigue. Go for a mint or citrus variety or try iced tea for a quick pick me up. Drinking tea also helps keep you hydrated, which combats fatigue.
2. Use peppermint essential oil
Place a drop of high-quality peppermint essential oil in your hand and with your index finger rub it on your temples, across your forehead, and behind your ears. Then, rub your hands together and inhale the remaining oil. For me, the awakening effects last about a half an hour.
3. Take a short walk
Sometimes while I sit on the couch I think about my need to regain energy, and I know if I just took a quick walk around the block I would feel better. Obviously, this is much easier said than done. Give yourself a countdown from 10 to get up, sometimes that's the extra boost you need.
4. Take a nap
Maybe it's the hearty Midwesterner in me, but I fight naps like you wouldn't believe. Something deep inside me tells me it's a waste of time. But in reality the opposite is true. If you lay down for a twenty-minute siesta, you will accomplish much more after the nap.
5. Do a few sun salutations
Traditionally in yoga, sun salutations are done first thing in the morning to wake you up and prepare for the day ahead. This is an excellent practice; however, they can be used throughout the day to create a spurt of energy. I do what are called "half suns." Here is a how to link.
6. Listen to upbeat music
Don't confuse "upbeat music: with "good music." They are two very different things. I love Bob Marley, but "Three Little Birds" is not going to make me jump out of my chair and do a load of laundry. Make a playlist of upbeat pop songs. A good example is "I Love It" by Icona Pop. It's not high art, but when you hear it you can't help but move. Even when you think the playlist won't work, press play and see what happens.
7. Do an activity you love
We often put off the things we love to do, because want to get the "shoulds" out of the way first. When you lack energy and willpower, doing things you don't want to do will be incredibly challenging, if not impossible. Ask yourself, if I could do anything in the world right now what would I do? Maybe it's play guitar or finish your most recent knitting project. Experiment and see if you have enough energy to do that one thing – after you finish you may even want to do more.
8. Try acupuncture
The ancient art of Chinese medicine focuses on unblocking your "chi" (your life force), so your body can come into balance. After I get acupuncture, I feel a quiet invigoration that gets me through the rest of the day.
9. Change your expectations
I'm a self-described "doer," easily bored and goal oriented. Let's just say checklists are my friend. Most days there is a difference between what I want to do and what I'm able to do. Create your "to do" list based on your energy level for the day. You will feel the same level of accomplishment if your cross 5 items off your "to do" list as 15.
10. Don't spend all your spoons in one place
Have you ever had the experience where you go out with a group of friends and you are the life of the party -- you use animated facial expressions and do all the talking, you may even feel completely energized -- only to crash into a pile of mush the second your friends are out of sight? If so, I'm with ya. When I'm spending time with friends I slip into "fake it" mode and turn up the charm and exuberance. Sometimes when I get home from those experiences I feel physically nauseous and I say to myself, "next time I won't expend so much energy." This is something I'm still working on. I'm trying to remember I have a limited number of spoons, and while being my old jolly self is fun in the moment, I might want to dial it back a little for the sake of my health.
11. Remember tomorrow is another day
It often feels like life is passing us by. Another day goes by with little or nothing accomplished. I've heard people say that they feel lazy, but you're not lazy, you're sick. If you were lazy it wouldn't bother you so much. If you are too tired to do something today, you may wake up with a little more energy tomorrow and if you don't, you don't. Someday is right around the corner.
Let's face it — the fatigue isn't going anywhere for a while. Your body is fighting a difficult battle and it needs to focus on the task at hand. But with Lyme the battle is harder on some days than others. Give yourself the time and space you need to heal and the energy pathways will eventually start to flow.
"Don't look at your feet to see if you're doing it right. Just dance." - Anne Lamott
I'm Kerry and I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in 2016. This is a positive space for those of us coping with Lyme disease and other invisible illnesses.