What is fatigue?
Fatigue a feeling of over-tiredness, weakness, or exhaustion. When you feel fatigued, you do not feel refreshed after you rest or sleep, which makes it challenging to wake up in the morning, go to work, do your usual activities, or even just get through your day.
As cancer treatment weakens your muscles, damages your organs, or alters your body's hormones, it increases your energy needs, whereas fatigue is primarily caused by cancer cells being killed along with healthy ones. As a result, your body has to work extremely hard to repair the damage, which leaves you feeling tired. In addition to stress, anxiety, and what you eat, fatigue can be caused by a number of other factors in your life.
The following are my top tips for giving your body the extra energy it needs between cancer treatment and recovery.
How to overcome cancer fatigue
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Dehydration is a common side effect of cancer treatment due to side effects, like fevers, vomiting, diarrhoea or excessive urination. As dehydration sets in, your blood pressure drops, leading to poor circulation and reduced blood flow to your brain. This causes feelings of sleepiness and increases the side effects of chemo brain.
2. Eating Habits
Avoid skipping meals. To help with this, eat regular meals and healthy snacks every 3 to 4 hours, rather than a large meal. Eating an afternoon or morning snack, such as a handful of almonds, if energy levels dip.
3. Get Moving
A 15 minute walk can give you an energy boost and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity.
4. Sleep Well
Sleeping and waking up at the same time every day can boost alertness, memory and help you gradually wake up more easily. Try aromatherapy, music or relaxation techniques if struggling to sleep.
5. Rest Well
Take short naps or rest breaks (30 minutes or less) Too much rest can lower your energy level and make it harder to sleep at night.
6. Reduce Stress
Stress uses up a lot of energy! Try deep breathing to improve your energy.
7. Cut out caffeine
Best way to do this is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks over a 3-week period. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, some painkillers and herbal remedies. Replace coffee with herbal teas and smoothies.
8. Plan Ahead
You should prioritize your tasks each day - decide what is important to you and focus your energy on those tasks. Take breaks and do tasks slowly, so you do not use up all your energy in one go.
Discover more tips - 'The importance of Hydration'