The Effects of Fatigue
Some of the more common effects of fatigue may include:
- Difficulty doing simple things such as brushing your hair or getting dressed
- Feeling you have no energy or strength
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
- Difficulty thinking, speaking or making decisions
- Feeling breathless after light activity
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- Losing interest in sex
- Feeling low in mood and more emotional than usual
Having one or more of these symptoms can affect your daily activities or social life. For example, finding it hard to concentrate may affect your work or studies. Fatigue can also affect your relationships; you may need to rest more meaning you might spend less time with friends and family, or you may avoid going out because it makes you very tired.
How fatigue is managed depends on what is causing it. It is important to talk about fatigue with your health care team. There may be ways to help improve this. If you are experiencing fatigue when you receive your invitation letter to the Informal Patient Education Programme, please contact Tracy Hargreaves who can make a referral to the Occupational Therapist team whom may be able to give you advice and support on how to manage your fatigue.
Although there is no cure for fatigue, some of the strategies below can help you manage the side-effects.
Many of the symptoms of fatigue can make you feel more exhausted, making the fatigue worse and, consequently, increasing the impact of those symptoms.However, if you can work out what triggers your fatigue, you may be able to find a way to break the cycle.
Many people have found the '5 Ps' helpful, especially with the support of family and friends. They can help by giving you gentle reminders or prompts to help you manage your daily activities.
Write a list of activities that you do regularly and assign priorities to them, with number one being the most important to you.
For example, walking the dog may be a one; seeing friends, a two; and ironing, a six.
If you find this tricky, you can split the activities into four categories:
- things I have to do
- things I want to do
- things someone else can do for me
- things that don't need to be done or don't need to be done right now.
Keeping a diary of your activities and when you feel fatigued can help you identify possible triggers and patterns in your energy levels.
Colour coding your activities may be helpful, for example:
- red for high-intensity activities, like exercise or going to work
- orange for medium-intensity activities, like meeting a friend or housework
- green for low-intensity activities, like relaxing or listening to music.
You can use this information, alongside your list of priorities, to plan your day. Remember it's important to have a balance of rest and activity.
Setting yourself goals can give you a sense of purpose and achieving your goals can be a real boost to your recovery. However, you should try not to be too ambitious and set realistic goals.
Make a realistic, achievable action plan, carry it out and review it afterwards. Accept that sometimes your fatigue will be too overwhelming to do everything on your action plan and remember to celebrate your achievements.
Where possible, you should try to break down your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks. You can do this using the same categories used in the prioritising section above.
Planning short rest breaks throughout the day can help minimise the impact of fatigue. As a guide, you should rest for ten minutes out of every hour, but try not to sleep during these rests - as this could affect your sleeping pattern.
And, remember that you can always stop if you're getting tired. You don't have to stick to your plan.
Keeping 20-30% of your energy in reserve can prevent you from burning out. "Spending" it wisely by shopping online or asking others to help you out can be a great way to conserve your energy.
Being mindful of your posture and how you're using your body can help you cope with fatigue caused by a brain tumour. For example, sitting down to complete a task instead of standing can save you a vast amount of energy.
Keeping things where you can easily reach them will prevent you from having to reach up or bend down when you need them. Making sure that you don't sit or stand in one position for too long can help ease mental fatigue.
Give yourself permission to say no, if you don’t feel up to it or don’t want to do something.
Other ways you can help your fatigue