How to Manage Lupus Fatigue When You Have Things to Do

Fatigue is a common symptom of lupus. And it's never welcome or convenient, often interrupting your life, including causing you to fall behind in your tasks. Although challenging, there are some things you can do to try and manage your to-do list when you are experiencing fatigue.

Rest as Much as Possible

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Even though you have things you have to get done today, you still need to rest as much as possible. Don't push yourself anymore than is necessary.

In between tasks, take breaks to rest. Sit or lie down after doing something unavoidable like going to the bathroom. 

It might seem counterintuitive that resting more will help you get more done, but if you are already feeling fatigued, then going without rest will lead to more fatigue. 

Pacing is key.


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You felt ambitious and had several things on your to-do list. It made you happy to think of finally crossing them off. Except now you can barely get out of bed, keep your eyes open, or think clearly enough to get them done.

There's no way everything on your list will get done today.

Therefore, rescheduling some of those tasks is a must. What can actually be done tomorrow or the next day, or maybe even next week?

Look at your to-do list (If you don't have one, write one so that you aren't using up energy trying to remember all of your tasks.) Number them in order of importance.

If you can only do one thing today, what would that be? What is most important?

After you finish that one thing, rest. Later, if you have any energy to spare, look at the second most important task on your list, and so on. 

Break Tasks Down

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Even while thinking about only one task at a time, break that down even further into smaller steps. For example, if your task is to walk your dog, break the steps down into something like:

  1. Get out of bed
  2. Get dressed (if possible, put on slippers and other easy to wear items)
  3. Sit down and rest.
  4. Get the leash and collar and put them on the dog.
  5. Rest again.
  6. Take what you need with you for your walk -- your keys, poop bags, your cell phone.
  7. On your walk, take your time. It might take you much longer than normal. That's okay. Rest along the way if you need to.
  8. When you're home, take the leash off your dog.
  9. Use the opportunity to go to the bathroom, if you need to.
  10. Go back to bed.
  11. Don't worry that it took you longer than usual to walk your dog. All that matters is that your dog is walked and you paced yourself going through the process.

During any task, focus on the step you are on, not on what you have yet to do. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Be Compassionate Toward Yourself

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It is frustrating when you cannot accomplish what you had planned on a given day. Instead of blaming or becoming angry with yourself, be gentle, compassionate, and forgiving. Even if you overdid it, even if you overdid it purposefully, fatigue is not your fault.

For most people, using a lot of energy does not lead to the same kind of debilitating fatigue. Plus, sometimes life happens in such a way that you cannot help but use more energy than you feel you should. Life is not neat.

And while energy management is important, it is not a perfect practice. It's not a science, and no one ever gets it 100% right.

Please, do not beat yourself up for over extending yourself, or for feeling too fatigued to complete your tasks.

What would you say to a friend in the same situation? Certainly, you wouldn't say anything that would cause them to feel bad about themselves. Treat yourself with the same love and respect.

Ask for Help

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Asking for help can be difficult. But, another form of self-compassion is being able to ask for help. If there is at least one person you can ask to help you, this is the time to do it.

If you are out sick from work due to fatigue, maybe you are friendly with a coworker who wouldn't mind helping you meet a deadline. Or you have an understanding boss who gives you an extension.

Maybe you know a kind a neighbor who has children who wouldn't mind having your child over for a play date while you get some rest.

A friend or family members calls you and learns that you aren't feeling well today and offers to bring over some food. You happily accept.

Sometimes people in your life want to be supportive but don't know how, and helping you in these situations gives them opportunities to offer support in concrete ways. 

Continue Conserving Your Energy

When you feel better, continue pacing yourself. The temptation is to run through your to-do list and attempt to get everything done at once that you couldn't do when you weren't feeling well. Conserving your energy and pacing yourself will help you check things off your to-do list at a rate that works best with your body.

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