Psoriasis and Fatigue
More than half of us living with psoriasis experience feelings of fatigue, or increased tiredness as a result of our condition.1
When my skin worsens, I certainly feel more fatigued. I used to find it difficult to tell the difference between fatigue from my psoriasis, and general tiredness, particularly as I have three young children and am self-employed, but I have found a few key indicators.
- I don't feel I have the energy to wash my hair to remove the scaling in a morning. Chocolate doesn’t help.
- I avoid replying to group chats about meeting for coffee until a date and time have already been set, so I don’t have to use any energy making a suggestion, even though I love food and usually have an opinion.
- I let the kids have pizza several nights a week, just because the concept of making a meal from scratch seems exhausting (and I don’t realize until its night 3 of pizza).
I spent the whole of last year trying to find a workaround for my fatigue, as it was at its worst in 2018. These are the best techniques and strategies I found.
Wake up at the same time every day
I am serious. The earlier, the better too if your life is busy, there's something magical and calming about having 30 minutes of silence before the manic business of morning life starts. It gives you time to check in with yourself. Good morning legs, how are we today? Skin? If I'm flaky and stressed I might have a bath. If I’m irritable, I might put on Creative Live or read a blog post to learn something new. I like to feel like a slightly better version of myself before breakfast, mostly because it means I can go for a nap in the afternoon without feelings of guilt because I have already been productive today- bonus.
Naps are coming back into fashion. I listened to a Sleep Doctor talk about a Nap-a-chino (i think that's what he called it). Essentially you drink a short of coffee and then immediately go for a nap. The caffeine takes 20 minutes to kick in, and so you wake up 20 minutes later, buzzing to get back to it. I haven’t tried this because I work from home and no longer feel guilty about taking a nap but its worth considering. It will really increase your afternoon productivity (the napping not the coffee). If you're at the end of the packet of Oreos, accept were you are, then go to sleep.
Figure out your season
I love the idea that different parts of your day relate to a season. It's much better than labelling yourself as a night owl. The idea goes like this: In Spring you have energy, ideas come forth quickly, and you approach tasks with enthusiasm. In Summer you are much better at idea maturation- will this idea work? How can it be implemented and other activities that require a more mature, but still active and curious mind. Autumn is when things calm down and die back. You are feeling more restful, this is an excellent time for admin type tasks, that you can do while having a cup of tea. It doesn’t require a great deal of energy or innovative thinking. In the Winter part of your day, you are looking more inwards. You find productive tasks tiring and struggle to muster enthusiasm- if you see your wintertime- then its the time you should go for a walk in nature, or sit, and binge watch Netflix. Its the downtime for your body- embrace it and let it rest.
When are you at your most productive? That is your springtime. Use it for appropriate activities, and you will get much more out of your day,
When are you at your least productive? Accept that and own it. Don’t try to fight it- you will only end up more tired (and probably more full of biscuits).
Mindfulness is just living in the moment. It can be stopping to listen to the wind, to smell the bubbles in the washing up bowl, or to acknowledge the feelings in your gut whenever anyone mentions Suzie from Bridge Club.
I ignore my bodies signals on the regular. ‘I just need too…’ and ‘I will, once I have finished….’ leave my mouth on a regular basis. Now I try to use them as a prompt to stop and be mindful. What do I really need to do now? Then I pause and listen to what my wise body has to say. Mindfulness is acknowledging what your body is telling you and basing your decisions on that information- not what is expected of you, or what you expect of yourself.
Exercise can help with fatigue
One of my breakthroughs in 2018 was employing the help of a friend to arrive at my house at 7.15am on a Saturday to do some strength exercises in my garden. My fatigue had become so bad that I had given up running, and as a result, I was feeling increasingly depressed.
Movement in any form helps to release feel-good chemicals into the brain, and strength training is surprisingly good for both increasing strength and increasing cardiovascular health (I bought a heart rate monitor last week and was very pleasantly surprised).
There are a lot of free seven minute workouts in the app store, but they’re not my idea of fun. I sometimes squeeze a few pushups in when I boil the kettle, and no one is looking, or a few yoga stretches … ok, again while the kettle is boiling. My days are not very varied, and I drink a lot of tea.
Caffeine is not your friend post 2 PM
Did you know that people break down caffeine at different rates? I already mentioned my tea consumption so you can imagine I was *horrified* to find that drinking tea after 2 pm affected my ability to fall asleep. How about you? Have you tried stopping at different times and measuring its impact on your sleep? You should. Sleep is essential for those of us with inflammation, especially if we're struggling with fatigue!
Let me know if there are strategies you have used that I missed.
Does your psoriasis skin feel out of control? How are you managing?