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Cancer-Related Fatigue and Energy Conservation Techniques

Cancer-related fatigue is a prevalent yet extremely challenging condition to deal with that may occur during or after your cancer and cancer treatments.  It is different from normal fatigue, as cancer fatigue is typically much more severe and is not relieved with any amount of sleep.  As a result, many people feel frustrated and hopeless about their cancer-related fatigue.  However, there are established tips and techniques you can use throughout the day to minimize energy expenditure and help you cope with cancer-related fatigue as best as you can.

5 Tips for Conserving Your Energy While Experiencing Cancer Fatigue:

#1. Plan Ahead

One thing many individuals experiencing fatigue find beneficial is planning their days and weeks to ensure that they have the energy to do the things that are most important or that they want to do the most. For example, scheduling doctor’s appointments early in the day and allowing time for rest after may help avoid fatigue later in the afternoon or evening.  

#2. Track Your Energy

Documenting your energy levels as you complete tasks during the day can help you identify previously unrecognized patterns (e.g., when you have the most energy and what activities are most draining). This practice is often referred to as keeping a “Fatigue Diary” and can assist you in planning your days and weeks. Using your diary in this way may help you optimize your productivity and have enough energy to participate in the activities that matter to you the most.

#3. Take Naps

Short naps and rests can help, especially after completing an activity. However, it is important not to become too inactive and rest too much, as this can weaken your muscles and may actually exacerbate your fatigue. It is also important to ensure that your daytime rest and sleep are not preventing you from sleeping well at night.

#4. Pace Yourself

Pacing yourself will help you to have enough energy to complete tasks and activities and allow you to recover faster.  This involves maintaining a slow and steady pace with movement and breaking up activities into smaller tasks or spreading them out throughout the day.  For example, if you climb 5 steps and then rest for 30 seconds, you won’t need a long rest at the top and will not feel as tired.  Conversely, if you climb all the stairs at once, you may need to rest for 10 minutes after and feel sore and tired the rest of the day.  Pacing can also involve taking breaks and sitting when you are out and about running errands.

#5. Ask For Help

If appropriate and available, it may be helpful to ask friends or family members for assistance with daily tasks.  Building a support network can make a huge difference, both from an energy conservation and emotional health perspective.  
Oftentimes, people are more than happy to help out a loved one in need.

4 Practical Tips to Deal with Your Everyday Tasks

Along with the above tips, there are some very small, practical things you can do to assist with your fatigue throughout the day.  Here are some suggestions to help you deal with everyday tasks:

#1. Housekeeping

  • Plan your tasks over the week and do a little bit of housework every day rather than lots all at once.  Balance light and heavy tasks.
  • Sit down after or during certain tasks, such as drying dishes.
  • Use long-handled dusters, mops and dustpans to avoid awkward stretching and bending.
  • Make one side of the bed at a time and sit to change pillowcases and fold linen.  
  • Clean one room at a time rather than all at once.
  • Slide rather than lift objects.
  • Keep a trash can in each room to avoid too much walking.
  • Buy more than one of each item around the house.  For example, keep the sink cleaner in the bathroom and kitchen.

#2. Shopping

  • If possible, go grocery shopping with someone for extra help.
  • Make a list prior to going to the store so you do not waste time or energy.
  • Always use a shopping cart rather than a basket, which can get heavy.
  • Shop at less busy times, such as in the morning or during the day.
  • Ask for help from shop staff to carry heavy items to your vehicle.

#3. Cooking

  • Have premade meals on hand to have when you are most fatigued.
  • Prepare extra meals or double portions and freeze anything leftover to have when you are more tired.
  • When applicable, cook and bake in steps to reduce energy use.
  • Gather all ingredients and utensils prior to cooking or baking.
  • Use electronic appliances, such as a food processor, to avoid doing too much manual preparation.

#4. Washing and Dressing

  • Always sit down when getting dressed.
  • Organize and lay out your outfit the night before.
  • Avoid bending or reaching, and use a reacher, sock aid, or long-handled shoe horn to lift your legs up onto a bed or chair.  
  • If you have weakness issues, it is easier to dress the weaker limb first and undress the strong one first.
  • Wear clothes that are easy to put on and take off.  For example, use shoes with velcro instead of laces or small buttons.
  • Avoid using any sort of scented products, which can irritate your lungs and cause shortness of breath.
  • Use warm, and not hot water, which may cause shortness of breath from a buildup of steam and condensation.
  • To conserve energy, sit down in the bath rather than standing in the shower or install a seat in the shower.

Need some more advice to manage your Cancer Fatigue symptoms efficiently?

Managing your symptoms can seem daunting, and identifying the correct coping mechanisms can be challenging. Many tips, tools and techniques are available to help you better manage your cancer-related fatigue. Contact us today to discuss more options that are tailored to you.

Tired of being tired?
Contact us today

Do not accept being fatigued as part of your ‘new normal’. Book your free and no-obligation consultation with our Customer Care Team to learn more about how we can help address your cancer fatigue-related concerns.


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