Roz Kalb , Psychologist
2 Mar 2022 | ~4:10 Engagement Time
Do any of these feel familiar?
“I’m so tired, I can’t even think.”
“I get myself up and dressed and then I need a nap!”
“I feel like a limp noodle.”
“I just wanted to get one thing done today, and I’ve already hit a wall.”
“I feel like I’m slogging through mud all the time.”
It can be overwhelming and baffling, but fatigue is manageable.
First, it’s helpful to understand what, exactly, this symptom is. Then, consider ways to rethink fatigue and manage your energy.
MS lassitude is the type of fatigue that is unique to people with MS. Its cause is not completely understood, but it seems to result from impaired nerve conduction in the central nervous system. This type of fatigue:
With an understanding of what factors can impact your fatigue, now, let’s consider ways you can reframe this symptom to better manage it in your everyday life.
Energy is a valuable commodity – as precious as money in the bank. So, the trick is to manage it as carefully as you manage your dollars and cents.
Keep up with deposits and withdrawals in your energy bank. It’s as simple as this – if the funds aren’t deposited into your account, you can’t make a withdrawal. And you can’t take more energy out of your energy bank than you put in.
You make deposits with adequate rest, a healthy diet, stress management, and physical activity. And then you plan your withdrawals carefully so that you don’t use all your energy up too quickly. You want to arrange your life in ways that help you get the most “bang for your buck.”
If you push too hard on a “good day,” you’ll find yourself paying back into your account for the next several days. For example, if you pour all your energy into your job, there will be nothing left for enjoying your family at the end of the day.
To best manage your energy account, use the 4 P’s.
Plan your day and your week so that you balance activity with rest, work on the hardest tasks when you’re at your freshest, and take a break before you hit a wall
Take a look at how you spend your time and energy. Does it align with your priorities or someone else’s? Are you getting the things done that matter most? If something really doesn’t matter, take it off your list. Give yourself grace – it’s OK to not do it all!
Slow down, take rest breaks, don’t try to do everything at once. If you need to put a task off until tomorrow, that’s OK.
How you carry out your everyday tasks determines how much energy you use. Don’t stand when you can sit. Consider using a motorized scooter to go long distances so that you still have energy left to enjoy yourself when you get to your destination. Arrange your environment so that there’s less bending, reaching, lifting as you go about your daily tasks.
Your healthcare team is here to help you understand the factors affecting your energy and manage your fatigue. Here are the members of team and the ways each of them can help you.
They’ll help you pinpoint the sources of your fatigue or determine which medications might be contributing to your fatigue. They can also help manage pain or spasms caused by spasticity and prescribe medication to help relieve MS lassitude.
A PT can recommend a physical activity and exercise program to increase your energy, plus tools and mobility aids to help you conserve energy.
Meanwhile, an OT can teach you energy conservation strategies for daily activities. This can include ways to modify your environment, simplify tasks, and make the most of the energy you have.
Psychologists, therapists, and other mental health professionals can identify and treat mood changes that may be affecting your energy level and your sleep.
A sleep specialist can diagnose and treat any primary sleep problems such as sleep apnea that are interfering with your sleep.
And finally, a urologist is an unexpected but important member of your fatigue-fighting team! They can diagnose and treat urinary problems that are disrupting your sleep.
Fatigue is a reality when you live with MS, but there are ways to manage it! You can reduce fatigue, manage the energy you have more effectively, and get the things done that matter to you.
Utilize your healthcare team, your support system, and additional resources found on our website to better fight fatigue.
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