For me caffeine is a double-edged sword. When I try to avoid caffeine altogether I have a very difficult time functioning in the morning. But if I have too much it will affect my ability to sleep at night. Considering I already have difficulty getting a solid night of rest, I of course do not want to do anything to make that worse.
I have found that if I have one, maybe two, cups of half regular/half decaf coffee in the morning it helps me be more alert, but does not impede my ability to sleep at night. And I never have caffeine after noon. Drinking coffee after 12:00 p.m. is just asking for trouble.
Caffeine affects everyone differently, so even a little in the morning may be too much for you. It is important to listen to your body and find what is right for you.
Some prefer drinking tea. Some swear by a stretching routine first thing in the morning. The important thing is find what is going to help you to wake up and start your day.
I remember making fun of my mom for making lists and notes about EVERYTHING. There were always sticky notes everywhere you looked. But here I am now making lists and notes about EVERYTHING!
I do, however, have a different way of going about this – I find it is easier to keep digital lists and notes. I have found using an app that allows you to make lists, notes, and reminders is extremely helpful. I can access it right on my phone, which I always have with me. But I can also access the website from my computer, tablet, anywhere I can get online.
I also make good use of the calendar in my phone to keep track of anything and everything that I have planned or need to do. I set reminders for important events, usually several reminders, starting the day before.
This calendar is also connected to my email account so that my husband and I both can get email reminders about these events. These have been lifesavers for me!
Work When You Are Most Alert
This may not be possible for everyone, especially if you have a set 9-5 work schedule. But if possible, find when you are most alert and able to think clearly and do your work then.
Maybe you're a morning person. If so, get up and do as much as you can in the morning. If you're like me, mornings are not the best time for you. So take things slowly and then once you feel yourself wake up a bit mentally then get to it.
Possibly you don't have a set time of day that is best. In that case do what you can, when you can.
Exercise – Physical and Mental
Exercise is said to help with fatigue. Of course when you're in pain and exhausted exercise is a lot easier said than done! But slow gentle exercises, maybe just some stretching, can help to wake you up and help to get a better night of sleep. More than that, exercise can help clear the fog in your mind and allow you to think a little more clearly.
In addition to physical exercise though, we need mental exercise. Sometimes you do need to unwind and do something that requires little to no thought. But it is very important to also spend time on strengthening your thinking ability.
Read something that will help you learn something new. Try a new, low-impact hobby. Talk to someone else about their interests and experiences and see if they can teach you something.
Try writing about your day, but instead of using just the same old words you normally use, pull up the thesaurus online and see if you don't learn a few new words. When you read or hear a word you are not familiar with, look it up, try to use it in conversation.
These little things help keep our minds active and to an extent can help fight the effects of cognitive fatigue.
I know that some may disagree with my assessment that pain is not the worst symptom of fibromyalgia. It is certainly the most common and well known. But it is my opinion that physical and mental fatigue are much harder to cope with and get relief from.
That does not mean we have to throw in the towel and give up. We are fighters and have proved that we can make it through anything. With a few tweaks to our schedules and habits we may be able to find at least some relief from fibro's cognitive impacts.