Cancer and its treatment often causes fatigue that impacts your ability to do daily activities. It is quite common, with 70-80% of cancer patients reporting significant fatigue symptoms. To help you feel your best, try some of these tips but also make sure you talk with your doctor to rule out other medical conditions that can contribute to feeling tired.
Grocery Shopping / Errands
Plan ahead. Organize your list by physical location in the store. Shop each section completely prior to moving to the next to avoid running back and forth. Accept help with loading bags into the car, or order online and pick up at the drive through if that’s available.
You need to eat a balanced diet to allow your body to heal during and after treatment. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. Seek out help from a registered dietitian, often available at your oncology office.
Our bodies rest and heal while we sleep. Cut out screen time 2 hours before you go to sleep, avoid alcohol and food for 1-2 hours before sleep as well. Moderate exercise during the day can help you sleep better as well. Meditate.
Activity releases chemicals that help relax your body and mind as well as helping get rid of excess energy or anxiety. Once you get clearance from your physician to begin exercise, talk to your physical therapist about how to start. The rule for exercising with cancer fatigue is that you should feel as good or better for 24 hours after activity than prior. If you want to walk for 30 minutes but then feel like you’ve been hit by a mac truck … it’s too much. Break down the walk into 2 x 15 minute segments or 3 x 10 minute segments.
Organize your doctors appointments, shopping, exercise, cleaning, etc. for the part of the day when your have more energy. If you have the most energy in the morning, don’t try to force yourself to do more in the afternoon. Listen to your body.
One of the best gifts anyone can give while you go through treatment and afterwards while you heal is the gift of help. Accept help for food, cleaning services, errands, and carpooling from friends and families. You don’t have to prove that you can do it all now.
What do you really need to do today and what can wait? Do what is necessary and if you feel good, try the next thing on the list. But if you’re tired and you have lots of things still left on your list, don’t beat yourself up trying to do them all.
Manage your Stress
Whether you reduce your stress by talking with friends on the phone, meeting for lunch or a walk, meditation, yoga, watching a good movie, or reading a book – do what makes you feel good. Surround yourself with positive people and experiences.
To summarize, cancer-related fatigue is real and there are ways to help you feel more like yourself. Contact your physician or oncology physical therapist for more ways to help.