Seven ways for people with MS to manage fatigue

May 1, 2018

Woman rests on bench

Heather is 28 years old and was diagnosed with MS three years ago. Since being diagnosed she has been an avid follower of the OMS Recovery Program. She has her own blog ‘Living with Dizzy’, which documents her adventures with MS, with the help of her trusted companion, the knitted donkey, Dizzy.

Dizzy and I are back with another little blog post. This time we’re thinking about fatigue, or more importantly, ways of helping to manage it.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS, affecting around 80% of those diagnosed, and it can have a massive impact on day-to-day life. One of the problems is that fatigue affects everyone differently, and that can make it really hard to explain to others!

People with MS can be affected by fatigue both mentally and physically. It can range from feeling tired to having a complete lack of energy, which causes your body to feel super heavy. It can also make other symptoms worse – for me this means extra dizziness.

Unfortunately fatigue isn’t something that we can completely get rid of, but there are ways of helping to manage it. Dizzy and I have compiled a little list of our top tips for helping to manage life with fatigue.

Sleeping

Sleep, sleep and more sleep! It’s really important to get a good night’s sleep so that this does not cause an increase in fatigue. I find it helpful to ‘switch off’ an hour before bed time, and to do something relaxing in this time, such as reading a good book. 

Prioritizing

By prioritizing tasks and activities it can help reserve energy levels for the things that we want or that are needed to be done. This is a tricky one, if you’re like me you always want to be able to do more, but it’s important not to overdo it.

Making a list of the tasks you need to complete each day and deciding which are the most important can also help with this.

Relaxing

Life is stressful for all of us, and living with a chronic condition can make it even more stressful. We can’t avoid stress completely but we can take time out to relax.

Stress can cause an increase in fatigue so having stress-free times throughout the day can help to give us a little more energy.

Read more: stress and meditation 

Looking after you

Knitted donkeys doing yoga

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and drinking lots of water are both important for helping with energy levels.

Exercising

For me, a lot of the time even the thought of exercising is exhausting. However, it has been proven that even a small amount of regular exercise can help to fight fatigue.

Sometimes it’s not always possible to do much, but even some gentle yoga or stretching can make all the difference.

Watch: a two-part yoga video from Véronique Gauthier-Simmons

Keeping cool

Heat can cause an increase in fatigue. If this affects you then it is important to try and stay cool throughout the day, especially in the summer!

Listening to your body

Listen to how your body is feeling and if you feel tired take the time out to rest. It can be really useful to have periods throughout the day to rest and have short naps (or two-hour naps if you’re like me…).

This can help you to then have more energy during the rest of the day.  

Heather

Blog: dinosaursdonkeysandms.com
Twitter: @dizzythedonkey

Read more: Heather’s first piece for us, “My Life With Dizzy”

 

 

4 thoughts on ‘Seven ways for people with MS to manage fatigue

  1. Hello Heather.
    You have pointed out the key aspects of managing ourselves. I have cut right down on dairy; only skimmed milk in tea-that’s it and wheat. I will sometimes have bread but I make it myself. I’m also avoiding pasta and rice. The results weren’t instant but the fatigue is now much more manageable. Listening to your body is so important. I alwways say that MS is stupid and we’re clever.
    Thank you for the article.

  2. A wonderful post with great tips – fatigue can be overwhelming and frustrating so it’s important to manage it as best you can, especially when it comes to listening to your body.

  3. Great post and very good reminders for me. I over do and then pay for it.
    I now use “The Spoon Theory”. I know that I have fewer spoons than other people and I have to manage them well if I want to live my best life. Robbing spoons from my next day in order to do things is only done if I really, really want to do something that is worth it. It helps me keep myself in check.
    Thanks to you and Dizzy. You two, plus Dizzy’s friends are awesome! 🐴

  4. Thanks for useful tips for fatigue. Similar to Steve above, I cut out dairy and gluten from my diet altogether some years ago. It made a big difference to energy levels.

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