People with cancer commonly experience Fatigue as a result of the challenges of cancer and the treatment you go through. This type of Fatigue might feel like persistent physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. This might feel different than feeling tired after not getting enough rest. It might interfere with daily life and it may not match the person’s level of activity. It won’t improve with rest and might continue long after your treatment ends.
Cancer clinicians and researchers are diligently looking for effective ways to manage cancer-related Fatigue. Merry Jennifer Markham, MD, describes eight ways to cope with cancer-related fatigue:
Treat medical conditions or other conditions that worsen fatigue: Fatigue can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It’s important to identify and address any specific conditions contributing to fatigue, such as anemia, thyroid disorders, or chronic pain. Treating these conditions can help alleviate fatigue.
Get moving: Regular physical activity, such as exercise, can help combat fatigue. While it may seem counterintuitive, physical activity can boost energy levels and improve overall stamina. Start with low-impact exercises, like walking or swimming, and gradually increase the intensity as tolerated.
Take time to relax: Incorporating relaxation techniques into your routine can help reduce stress and combat fatigue. This can include activities such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation.
Eat well: Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in managing fatigue. Ensure you consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary or processed foods, as they can lead to energy crashes.
Practice good sleep habits: Establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a sleep-friendly environment. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Avoid stimulants like caffeine or electronic devices close to bedtime. Implement a relaxing bedtime routine to signal your body it’s time to wind down.
Engage in mind-body strategies: Techniques such as mindfulness, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce fatigue by calming the mind and relaxing the body. These practices can improve sleep quality and overall well-being.
Consider therapy and counseling: Fatigue can be associated with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or chronic stress. Seeking therapy or counseling can provide support, help manage emotional challenges, and develop coping strategies to alleviate fatigue.
Get a massage: Massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension, improve blood circulation, and promote relaxation. It can be beneficial for reducing physical and mental fatigue. Consult with a licensed massage therapist to determine the most suitable type of massage for your needs.
There are several complementary approaches that can be helpful for Fatigue. Certain diets might help manage Fatigue as shown for Breast Cancer patients in this study.
Some mind-body approaches also help patients, regular fitness, and therapies like healing touch and Therapeutic touch.
We will set up an exercise counseling session during which symptoms will be reviewed and current functional status, as well as current and previous exercise habits. We will provide you with individualized exercise recommendations and include plans which will help you reach your goals.