3 Ways to Break Out of the Chronic Illness Fatigue Cycle

3 Ways to Break Out of the Chronic Illness Fatigue Cycle

A few summers ago, I won concert tickets off the radio. I was thrilled! But, when I realized the date of the show was the night after a concert I had already bought tickets for, my heart sunk!

Did I have enough energy for TWO late nights out in a row? When you manage autoimmune disease, you know that pushing your body too hard can lead to symptom flare-ups.

With high hopes, and a bit of rebellion, I went out two nights in a row. For good measure, I was up late a third night, too. This back-to-back-to-back scheduling lead to my longest, most difficult rheumatoid arthritis flare to date, weeks in bed and months of steroids to get the inflammation to simmer down.

I needed a lesson like this to get back on track with the lifestyle practices that help ease my symptoms and keep me in the flare-free (er, reduced?) zone.

Today I’m sharing a few of these tips with you!

Of course, every person’s body and health issues are unique. What works for me, may or may not work for you. As always, chat with your healthcare provider before making any radical changes to your diet, supplements or daily routine.

Disclosure: This blog is reader-supported, which means this post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela

What is the Chronic Illness Fatigue Cycle?

On “good days” when I have extra energy and mental focus, I am determined and excited to do, do, do. I check items off my to-do list, spend lots of time at my computer writing, catch up with friends, get the laundry done, go shopping, play in the yard, take the dog for a trail adventure and… eventually do too much and put myself into a flare state.

Then, I rest and recover. I spend time on the couch with my dog, nap often and cancel most plans. Chore piles up. My mental health dips.

Eventually, I feel revived and ready to take on the world again. This cycle of doing too much, too fast followed by needing copious amounts of rest to get back to baseline are what I consider the chronic illness fatigue cycle.

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to better balance this flow, so I can keep doing each day and not get stuck in recovery mode for days, or weeks, at a time. Here’s how!

3 Ways to Preserve Your Energy

I have the best weeks when I am proactive about rest, am mindful of how long I engage in certain tasks and listen to my body for what it needs.

1. Prioritize Rest Every Single Day

I have a bedtime routine I stick to pretty closely. An evening bath, followed by some reading and chatting with friends online or by text helps me slip into a restful sleep. I start winding down no later than 9:00 pm, and lights out by 10:00 pm. Of course, some days this varies, but I try hard to keep this schedule because I know my symptoms will flare if I push myself to stay up too late.

I also listen to my body during the day and take naps if my fatigue levels are soaring. This might mean noticing my legs and arms getting too heavy, brain fog creeping in, slurring my speech or getting migraine with aura symptoms. These little cues from my body are telling me I need rest!

2. Pacing and Balancing Times of Activity

During the day, I’m acutely aware of what I need to accomplish for both work and chores around the house. When I make my to-do list, I’m sure to balance each hour of doing with an hour of rest.

For example, it’s not uncommon for me to work for four hours, then take an extra long lunch break to nourish my body, rest my eyes (screen time makes my migraine aura symptoms flare), nap and watch a show on TV that allows me to relax.

When I do yard work, I set a time limit. When time is up, I sit down and rest for an equal amount of time. If I feel good afterward, then I might continue. Or, I might just stop altogether and save that energy for another next task.

3 Ways to Make Lawn Mowing Easier When You Have Arthritis and Fatigue

3. Nurture and Support The Body

If I want to feel good, I have to give my body every chance to do so! I prioritize daily walks, gentle yoga classes, meditative activities and mental health. These help me manage my stress levels, so my body can naturally relax and digest properly.

I also focus on eating a veggie-heavy vegetarian diet to best nourish my body with whole foods-based nutrition. After reading a scary brain MRI report, I dove into the Wahl’s Protocol and learned how important specific foods are for the body and how they help us heal from autoimmune diseases.

If I’m in healing mode, and improving, I’m less likely to get stuck in the chronic illness fatigue cycle.

Everyone Can Benefit From Wellness Practices

These are just a few ways I support my health as a person with three autoimmune diseases and a handful of other health conditions. Although I’m working through some amazing homeopathic treatments that are giving me more energy and focus each week, I still have to be mindful of how my mind and body are performing each day and make adjustments so the next day can be good too!

I’m Trying a Holistic, Homeopathic Approach to Healing Autoimmunity

How are you managing your health? Do you also allow for extra rest? Pace your activities? Or, eat in a specific way to boost your wellness? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below.

Until next time,
Choose healthy!

PS: Visit me on Facebook at Cupcakes and Yoga Pants!

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