A burnt out and smoking match with a person's profile in the match head

5 Ways I Cope With Narcolepsy Burnout

Living with narcolepsy means that I have a low energy capacity. This means that I only have so much energy to allocate to daily activities. When I overextend myself, especially for long periods of time, I end up with rebounding symptoms. During these times, my narcolepsy symptoms become significantly worsened.

This means that I can end up experiencing more sleep attacks, more cataplexy attacks, and even sleep paralysis and insomnia. These symptoms can be debilitating and severe.

Strategies for coping with narcolepsy burnout

Once I realize I am in the early stages of burnout, I know I have to get out of it before it gets even worse. (The last time I pushed myself too far, I ended up with shingles for 4 months!)

Here are 5 ways I cope with burnout.

1. Rest, rest, rest

The best thing to do in these instances is to SLEEP. So, to get as much sleep as possible, I sleep in. And I take lots of naps. Anything between periods of sleeping consists of eating and taking care of bodily functions — the bare minimum. A few days of this can help knock me out of a narcolepsy flare for the short-term.

2. Eat nutritious foods

I know it can be difficult to prepare food during burnout. Even the act of chopping vegetables seems unthinkable during these times of struggle. I keep frozen and canned fruits and vegetables around for just these occasions. I also rely on protein shakes and bars to maintain my protein and calorie intake with little to no effort.

3. Inform your community

It can be difficult to tell people "no" when we really do want to socialize.

When I am in burnout, I find it important to tell my immediate friends. That way they know that I am unable to do much for a few days. This can result in getting community support, which always makes things a bit easier.

4. It can wait

When I’m in a flare, my motto is, “It can wait.”

Need to clean the house? Nope, it can wait.

Need to run to the bank? No, it can wait.

So on and so forth. When I set boundaries with myself, I am able to recover faster and get back to being productive. If I ignore my needs and try to rush my recovery, that isn’t helpful in the long run. Ultimately, I have to remind myself that rest is productive, especially when living with a chronic illness like narcolepsy.

5. One baby step at a time

It can be hard to get full tasks done during burnout. I like to break up tasks in order to decrease the time and effort that it takes to act on them. Though the task will take longer to complete when done in pieces, it is better than doing nothing – and better than overdoing it and ending up in a more severe burnout! Finding a balance between rest and productivity is difficult for those of us with narcolepsy, so it is important to find a sustainable middle-ground.

Are there any coping strategies that help you deal with narcolepsy-related burnout?

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