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If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you know what fatigue means. Your friends and family might think you're just tired, but that doesn't come close.

Although you may not be able to stop RA fatigue completely, you can lessen it and have more energy to enjoy life. These strategies make a difference.

Combine Rest and Movement

Rest is key to managing fatigue, but don’t sit on the sidelines. The important thing is to get a balance.

"If you have RA and overexert yourself all day, of course you'll feel bad," says Daniel Wallace, MD, assistant program director of the Rheumatology Fellowship Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. "But if you lie in bed all day, you'll also feel bad."

After sitting or lying for too long, your joints will ache as soon as you start to move. So switch things up.

Rest when you need to. When you exert yourself, take frequent breaks to recharge. Talk to your boss about how you can have rest periods at work. See if you can adjust your schedule and find a quiet spot -- shut the door if you have an office, find a bench outside, or even sit in your car.

Take breaks to move. When you need to sit for a while -- like at a desk -- stand up, stretch, or walk around every half hour, says Lenore Frost, PhD, clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. Set an alarm to remind yourself to get up if it helps.

Exercise. It will give you energy. Don't do a whole 30-minute workout at once, says Darlene Lee, a nurse practitioner and practice manager at the rheumatology clinic at the University of California in San Francisco. Start with 5-minute segments and work your way up to 30.

Get enough sleep. It's super important. Create good habits -- go to bed at the same time every night and cut back on caffeine, for example. If you still don't sleep well enough, talk to your doctor.

Save Your Energy

You’ll want to rethink how you do things. What hurts or wears you out? Hectic mornings? Tying your shoes? Cooking dinner? Come up with ways to make things easier.

Community Insights:

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