Coping with Endometriosis-Related Fatigue
Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of endometriosis but it isn’t often talked about. Fatigue is associated with insomnia, pain, inflammation, long-term stress, and depression.1 These days, I’m grateful to be mostly pain-free, but fatigue is a symptom I still experience. To manage fatigue, I find self-care is really important.
Getting enough sleep is number one for improving endometriosis-related fatigue. Without good sleep I really don’t function properly, I think it makes my pain worse too. Here are my tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Routine is key; I go to bed at the same time every night at around 9pm and get up at first light around 5am.
- I have a wind-down routine which includes turning down the lights and turning off devices about 30 minutes before bed.
- I listen to ASMR (autonomic sensory meridian response) to help me relax and go to sleep.
- If I wake up during the night for no apparent reason, I lie in bed and concentrate on my breathing, this helps me go back to sleep.
- When I get period pain, I go to sleep with a lavender heat pack on my belly to help with endo-related pain.
- I avoid eating a lot right before bed, I’ll usually have a warm drink of cacao and coconut milk or herbal tea.
Meditation is my favorite way of managing endometriosis-related fatigue. I wake up and meditate for 20 minutes every morning. I find my energy levels drop significantly in the afternoon so I’ll try and fit in 10-20 minutes in the afternoon after lunch and it really makes a huge difference to how I feel afterwards; I feel less tired and refreshed.
There are different types of meditation. Lately, I’ve been practicing Vedic meditation, but I also practice mindfulness meditation. There are loads of different ways to meditate, it’s just a matter of find the style that suits you.
When you’re exhausted, running to the gym to an intense workout is the last thing on your mind, but for me, regular exercise helps manage my fatigue levels. Yoga, walking, and weights are what I do on a regular basis. I try to incorporate movement wherever I am, so I'll move from my desk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk instead of driving.
I try to eat a diet that will keep my pain and inflammation levels down. Drinking enough water is also a part of a healthy diet and not drinking enough can cause fatigue.2 My fatigue also seems to be linked to my gut. Whenever I don’t eat well or am stressed, it triggers both gut and endometriosis symptoms such as bloating and fatigue. To prevent these symptoms, I eat an endometriosis-friendly diet that’s rich in plant-based foods and low in processed food.
When I’m stressed and doing too many things I don’t really enjoy, it definitely impacts my quality of life, I’m sure you can relate to that. Excess stress impacts my fatigue, in a really big way. For me, it comes down to prioritizing. I make sure I fit in things I love to do like being in nature, practicing meditation, or taking time to enjoy a meal rather than rushing through it.
To manage my stress, I take inventory of what situations are making me feel worried or stressed, then I think of a way to change the situation to reduce its impact on me. Examples of this can be to delegate work or to say ‘no’ to new commitments. I also find practicing self-compassion helps, which just means I practice being kind and gentle to myself.
Yours in health,
How old were you when you were diagnosed with endometriosis?