How to Get That Energy Back!
Real-life tips for fighting the fatigue that comes with ITP.
When you’ve been living with ITP for a while, you’re bound to have a few go-to remedies for dealing with those low-energy days. So we asked a few people with the condition for the tips they stand by—and added a few more solutions that can help.
Keep humming with small snacks
Regular small meals and snacks keep blood sugar levels stable, helping your energy hum along. Problem is, it can be hard to fit in regular, healthy meals. What works for Flourtown, PA, photographer Erica Johnson? Smoothies! “They’re meals for me and, in a pinch, a great quick snack. I try to have at least two 10-oz. smoothies a day. One of my favorites: peaches, mangoes, blueberries, oats, chia seeds and almond milk.” Just toss in your blender!
“Pay off” your sleep debt to fight fatigue
Getting your recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep lately, but still fighting fatigue? You may have unresolved sleep debt—that’s the accumulated sleep you’ve lost due to poor sleep habits, sickness and nighttime awakenings—says the National Sleep Foundation. Try turning in half an hour earlier than usual for as many days as it takes to get back down to a “zero balance.”
Sharpen your focus with “me time”
Chronic busyness can lead to fatigue, burnout and depression, so take regular breaks to recharge. Got 10 minutes? Make a cup of tea and relax with the paper. Flip through a magazine. Stroke your pet. Got a half hour? Stroll through the park. Soak in the tub. And don’t feel guilty—a study in the journal Cognition shows that taking short breaks helps you avoid mental fatigue so you can stay focused when you are doing tasks.
Tame stress with a pastime
“When I have the time, I pack up my camera and lenses and drive to the Nashville Zoo,” says Charity Hasty. “I love taking pictures of the meerkats, flamingos and clouded leopards. It provides for good exercise as well as good pictures and helps relieve any stress I have.” Not surprising! Research shows participating in leisure activities can reduce your fatigue and recharge you.
Ward off dehydration with “delicious” water
Drop cubes of cantaloupe or watermelon or kiwi slices into a pitcher, fill with water and sip throughout the day to fend off energy-draining dehydration! The Institute of Medicine suggests 3 liters of liquid a day for men and 2.2 liters for women.
Outsmart binges to keep blood sugar steady
Overeating can send your blood sugar soaring—and then crashing, leaving you exhausted. Next time you’re tempted to binge, call a friend. Sharing what’s on your mind can help defuse your urge to eat.
Take baby steps to get back on track
“After my splenectomy, I could hardly make it out to the mailbox,” says Beckie Mostello from Nashville. “I wanted so badly to get back to my normal self. So I took baby steps. I’d walk my children to the school bus, walk to the group mailbox area down the street, go to the Y and walk on the treadmill.” Beckie gradually lengthened her walks. “Now I walk about five miles most days. I go with my neighbor and end up talking most of the time. I don’t even realize how far we’ve gone until we are done!”
Perk up your performance with a power nap
Got 20 minutes? Lie down and close your eyes! A 2006 study showed that a short nap during the day promotes wakefulness and enhances performance and learning ability. But set an alarm or train yourself to wake up—taking frequent longer (30 minutes or more) naps may be associated with higher morbidity and mortality, the researchers found.
Breathe deep to use oxygen better
Breathing from the diaphragm makes breathing less work so you have more energy available, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Make sure you’re doing it right: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place pillows under your head and the back of your knees. Rest one hand just below your ribcage and inhale slowly through your nose—your hand should rise with your breath.