Fatigue: causes and self-management

Fatigue: causes and self-management

Everyone feels tired sometimes. Usually after some rest or sleep you feel better. However, living with a long-term health condition can cause fatigue and make you feel tired a lot of the time. You may have little energy or motivation to do everyday tasks.

Fatigue: causes and self-management

Many people who are living with a chest or heart condition, or who have had a stroke, experience tiredness and fatigue. This can have a big impact on your daily life, work and relationships. However, there are many things you can do to help manage your tiredness and fatigue, and save your energy.

What is fatigue?

A feeling of extreme physical or mental tiredness that does not always improve after rest. Fatigue is a common symptom of arthritis. Often, making a few small lifestyle changes can help you manage this problem. Fatigue affects everyone differently. It can affect you both physically and mentally. For some people, their fatigue is mild and does not have a big impact on their daily life. For others, fatigue can affect how well they are able to cope on a daily basis.

Causes of fatigue

•Lack of refreshing sleep |Too much sleep |Stress / Anxiety /Low Mood |Being overweight |Lack of fitness | Erratic eating habits |Some medications |Inflammation |Anaemia |Dehydration |Pain |Doing too much | Pregnancy


Your medicines can also cause fatigue

Tiredness can be a side effect of medication. If you think your medicines are making you feel tired, discuss this with your doctor. They may be able to change your medication to something that works better for you.

Effects of fatigue

• Relationships: Feeling less motivated to spend time with others or do things you usually enjoy.

• Physical affects: Feeling weak, low in energy or dizzy

• Thoughts and feelings: Having difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions and staying motivated.

• Daily life: Having difficulty doing everyday tasks like washing, dressing or cooking.

Fatigue self-management
Four P’S

• Positivity. Try to stay positive. Make time to focus on the good things in your life, and what you can look forward to.

• Plan your week ahead and get organised.

• Prioritise what needs doing the most so you can spend your energy wisely. It’s okay to put less important things off.

• Pace yourself. Do things one step at a time or focus on one big activity per day to conserve your energy .

Sleep management

•Routine – go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.

•Environment – Your bedroom should be clear from clutter and distractions. It is just for sleeping.

•Stop using electronic devices before bed. The light they emit has been proven to disturb sleep.

•Time – Aim for no more than 8 hours of sleep per night Exercise This is the key to fighting fatigue. Boost your energy levels and mood; lose weight and gain muscle.

Things to avoid

• Alcohol

• Caffeine

• Daytime naps lasting longer than 15 minutes

Relaxing Exercises (6 min)

Find a peaceful place. Try these simple relaxation exercises for a real benefit.

•Hold each position for 2 minutes.

•Inhale deeply, and exhale slowly.

•Close your eyes and relax.

1. Sit cross – legged or in a chair. Sit comfortably. Rest your hands on knees. Breathe in and out for 2 minutes.

2. Hug your knees to your chest. Breathe in and out for 2 minutes.

3. Stretch forward as far as you can, and tuck your head in. Breathe in and out for 2 minutes.

Spoons theory

Energy is invisible and so it is difficult to quantify or describe to others. Spoons are physical objects and so can be used as a technique for visualising energy levels.

1. You start each day with a fixed number of spoons.

2. Plan your day. Each task costs you a spoon because you are expending energy.

3. Higher energy tasks will cost you more spoons than low energy tasks.

4. If you wake up and feel great you have 10 spoons. If you didn’t sleep very well or you had a busy day yesterday you might feel tired – so you only have 7 spoons. This may help you visualize your energy level and plan your day. Try using this way of describing your energy levels to your friends and family so that they can understand how you’re feeling.

Ten Top Tips
1. Relax. Try some mindfulness exercises and relaxation techniques.

2. Do little and often.

3. Exercise frequently. Set yourself exercise goals. Gradually increase them as your energy levels and abilities rise.


4. Rest when you need to.

5. Eat healthily with regular modest meals. Avoid snacks. Fatty and sugary foods can leave you feeling sluggish.

6. Drink plenty. Carry a bottle of water with you and remind yourself to have a few sips every now and then. Avoid sugary drinks and caffeine.

7. At work, try taking micro-breaks to refresh yourself. If your job involves lots of sitting, get up and move around. Encourage oxygen flow to your brain and muscles.

8. Find a hobby – something stress relieving, creative, musical or sporty. Knitting, cycling, swimming and baking are all good ideas for when you need some down time.

9. Stay in. If you don’t feel up to the evening out you planned, suggest an alternative which is more manageable.

10. Let others know when you are feeling fatigued. They may be able to help or to decrease their demands on you.



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