Fatique - Non-Medical management
Non-Medical Management of Fatigue

There are many ways in which fatigue can be managed. These include conserving your energy; getting the right amount of sleep, rest and exercise; getting motivated and restoring attention.

  1. How do I save energy and still do what I need and want to do?
  2. There are many things you can do to save the energy you have. Among them are to:
    • Set Priorities
      • Write down everything you need/want to get done in a typical week. Ask yourself: Do I need to do this to survive? Is it important to my life goals?
      • Note specific things must be done.
      • Then ask if I must do this, can it be changed so that I can do it?
      • Can I do it less often? Can I break it into smaller parts? Can I delegate it to someone else?
      • Make a calendar. Place it where everyone can see it.

    • Change your activities
      • Use mental vs. physical energy
      • Break an activity into component parts, only do some
      • Alternate light and heavy activities
      • Organize work areas to get more done with less energy
      • Use labor-saving devices
      • Avoid rushing/take rests

    • Delegate to others
      • Be specific about what you need
      • Keep a list of what needs to be done; if someone offers, tell them immediately
      • Ask for what you need up front
      • Be open with friends/family about illness, treatment, needs and feeling (remove the taboo of topic)
      • Delegate more fatiguing or less-valued activities to others (you may want to make the birthday cake for your son's birthday, but delegate the house cleaning for the party to others or have the party at another relative's house)

    • Carefully use the energy you have
      • Know when you are most tired
      • Do things when your energy is at its peak
      • Know that you can only put out as much energy as you have
      • Sit in a firm chair with arms to be better able to get out of the chair (you may need someone to hold it in place for you
      • Put on a terrycloth robe to absorb water when you get out of the tub or shower rather than drying yourself with a towel (saves a lot of energy)
      • Use a raised toilet seat in the bathroom
      • Consider a wheelchair or walker on wheels for longer distances
      • Arrange commonly used materials and supplies close to your workspace
      • Sit rather than stand
      • Use a long handled device to pick things off the floor (bending over to pick something up may be very hard and may make you dizzy when you stand back up)
      • If possible, meet with a physical or occupational therapist for energy conserving ideas
      • Keep a journal to describe your fatigue
      • Balance rest and activity
      • Postpone non-essential activities

  3. What kinds of things can I do to regain or restore my energy?
    • Get plenty of rest and sleep (good sleep hygiene)
      • Take it easy
      • Rest when you feel tired
      • Try to get more sleep at night
      • Try to rest during the day
      • Take a power nap, but no more than 30 minutes at a time
      • Do something that you enjoy that is relaxing
      • Avoid the use of caffeine (coffee, chocolate, sodas)
      • Avoid alcohol
      • Establish a regular bedtime
      • Take a warm bath
      • Sip warm milk/herbal teas
      • Listen to soothing music
      • Establish a quiet environment
      • Use your bed only for sleep; do not read or work in bed
      • Go to bed when you feel sleepy; but do not stay in bed if you do not fall asleep
      • Try to make your area for sleep quite, with fresh air and at a comfortable temperature
      • Turn down or turn off the telephone
      • Use a comfortable mattress (right firmness for you) and pillow. Use pillows for support.
      • Wear loose clothing
      • Sleep in a familiar environment whenever possible.
      • Take sleep medicines as ordered by your provider (short term or intermittent use are perfectly okay)
      • If you use herbs or other natural products for sleep, be sure to tell your provider as some herbs can affect how well your cancer treatment works.

    • Get exercise daily
      • Take part in a regular exercise program (walk daily, lift weights [canned soups or vegetables can be used at weights], swim, ride a bike, run).
      • Don't exercise when it is very hot or very cold.
      • Stop exercising if you are short of breath, have pain, feel dizzy or have any other symptom.
      • Pay attention to safety; exercise with someone or have a method to reach others (Cell phone).
      • Make sure others know where you are going if you go for a walk or bike ride.

    • Decrease your stress
      • Join a support group
      • Take part in activities like dancing, painting, writing poetry, making music
      • Share your thoughts and feelings
      • Focus on positive aspects of life
      • Actively participate in your treatment plan
      • Use humor
      • Change your environment
      • Share your story (life's accomplishments/events)

    * Practice deep breathing, visual imagery, meditating, Take part in ceremonies

  4. How do I take good care of myself?
    • Maintain your motivation
      • Share your thoughts and feelings
      • Focus on positive aspects of life
      • Actively participate in your treatment plan
      • Use humor
      • Change your environment
      • Share your story

    • Take care of yourself
      • Take your medicines for pain and nausea (as well as all others) as your provider has told you to. Pain, nausea and any other side effects that are not relieved can increase your fatigue)
      • Continue to have a social life
      • Try to maintain a positive attitude
      • Communicate concerns about fatigue to providers
      • Learn your patterns of fatigue
      • Use a 1-10 scale to rate your fatigue (or any other routine rating); make sure to tell your provider
      • Keep a daily log, note:
      • Time of day and day of week
      • If you got any cancer treatment
      • If you got any other treatment
      • Any other illnesses
      • Highest level of energy
      • How being tired affects your life

  5. How do I improve my ability to concentrate/pay attention?
    • Walk or sit outdoors
    • Tend plants
    • Watch birds or wildlife
    • Involve your mind by reading, doing crossword puzzles or doing math problems



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