Chronic fatigue changes how a person lives day-to-day, and lifestyle modifications may be helpful. Below are some examples.
Simplify. People with rheumatoid arthritis can make tasks around the house as simple as possible by keeping frequently used items in an easy-to-reach location. For example, they can use a pushcart or basket to keep essentials near them wherever they are (such as a tissue box, remote, cellphone or portable phone).
Ask about work accommodations. If fatigue is interfering with a person's ability to do their job, they can talk with their boss and healthcare provider to explore ways of making work adjustments such as frequent breaks during the day, working from home, or changing the workplace environment to prevent prolonged standing or sitting. Many reasonable modifications are required by law if a patient works with their healthcare provider to make requests through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or under the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This approach may not work for every patient or employer.
Make daily tasks easier. Small changes can make daily routines less tiring. For example, people with fatigue can wear slip-on shoes and pants with elastic waistbands, or sit down while showering or brushing their teeth.
Take breaks. People with fatigue are advised to be active but also take breaks to recharge. They may need to rest or nap between activities. For example, a person may work or socialize for a few hours and then lie down to rest for 45 minutes before moving on to the next task. Breaks must also be planned into recreational activities and vacations.
Let others help. Loved ones may volunteer to help or they may need to be asked for help. Friends and family can assist with cooking, laundry, or errands.
Prioritize. People coping with fatigue are advised to put energy into the things that are important to them, and let the other things go.
Chunk tasks. Be more efficient by planning several tasks in advance to make the most of their activity level. For example, people with fatigue can plan one trip to the kitchen to do several activities together.
Manage stressful thinking. Everyone has worries. Those with chronic disease and fatigue often spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about things they are unable to change. A patient can inventory their thoughts and identify the things they can control, and those that they should not waste time or energy worrying about.
People with rheumatoid arthritis are advised to prioritize, take breaks, and ask for help. They should not feel guilty if they need to put off tasks or say no to invitations because of fatigue. They should not worry about the things they cannot change, only those things they are able to make a positive impact on changing in order to improve their energy, function, and improve their quality of life.