3 Ways to Make Psoriatic Arthritis Fatigue a Little Less Grueling

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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When you think of fatigue, perhaps you imagine a sucky night’s sleep or a bout of jet lag—something that typically vanishes after some shut-eye. But unlike feeling tired, fatigue is something else entirely: In a health context, it’s an extreme lack of energy to the point that it’s hard to live your life. According to the National Cancer Institute, it may affect your memory, make it hard to speak or think clearly, and cause mood and emotional changes, too. If you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA), it can be a brutal daily reality—and getting your standard eight hours at night isn’t enough to fix it. Research suggests that up to half of people who’ve been diagnosed with PsA experience moderate fatigue, and for 30%, it’s severe. That’s because the autoimmune condition puts stress on your body, especially during flare-ups, which can make you feel worn out.

Just ask Samantha Holmgren, a 33-year-old dietitian from Ontario. Alongside joint swelling and skin rashes (she also has psoriasis, which is commonly associated with PsA), she has definitely felt this way. “Sometimes when I make my tea in the morning, I can’t fill the kettle all the way up because it’s so heavy,” Holmgren tells SELF.

Finding the right PsA treatment can help cut back on inflammation, but experts say that rethinking how you approach certain tasks—and staying in tune with your body—can play a big role in keeping your energy levels as high as possible. Here are their suggestions.

1. Pace your activities.

If you’re exhausted all the time, you might be tempted to fit in as much as you can the minute you have a burst of energy. But overdoing it just because you feel good can actually make fatigue worse down the road, Emily Moore, PhD, a pain psychology professor at Stanford Medicine, tells SELF.

That’s where time-based activity pacing—where you segment your day with periods of activity and rest to maximize energy—comes into play. For example, maybe you set a timer to clean the house for just 10 minutes. Once it goes off, you sit down and do some feel-good stretches, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for a few minutes—or perhaps you sit down and do nothing at all. (Yep, this is your official permission to couch-rot.) It might take you longer overall to tackle your chores, but you’ll feel better (and actually be able to complete the task) when all is said and done.

This technique is often recommended for people with chronic pain and fatigue, and it can also be helpful to journal or use a tracker (like Bearable or just your Notes app) alongside it, Catherine Bakewell, MD, RhSUS, a rheumatologist with Intermountain Healthcare and board member for the Association of Women in Rheumatology, tells SELF. If your energy peaks at, say, 2 p.m.—something you’ve noticed and recorded for a few weeks—you can make it your prime socializing or errand-running hour, she notes.

2. Try not to overdo it on “thinking tasks.”

It might seem like activity-pacing would include only those things that are clearly taxing you physically, like chipping away at yard work or spending a day running errands. So when it’s finally time to flop down on the couch during your (well-deserved) rest period, you might be tempted to craft a shopping list, shoot off texts you’ve been ignoring, or scan news headlines while a show streams in the background.

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