5 Ways to Fight Cancer Fatigue
Fatigue is a common side effect of cancer and its treatment. Cancer-related fatigue can be disabling, and can interfere with your daily life and with your ability to stick with radiation therapy or other cancer treatment. But you don’t have to let cancer fatigue put you out of commission.
If your cancer fatigue is interfering with your ability to work, exercise, eat, spend time with loved ones, or otherwise live your daily life, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to treat causes of cancer fatigue like pain, sleeplessness, or hormonal changes. You also may be able to take medications to treat fatigue related to cancer treatment. You can try to keep your energy levels up by getting plenty of sleep, managing your activity levels, exercising, accepting help from others, and eating a healthy diet.
1. Get Plenty of Sleep
You may expect a lot of things from radiation therapy, but many people are surprised to find that they need a little more sleep during radiation therapy than they did before. Try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night, but don’t expect that to necessarily be enough to feel well-rested. Light activity during the day can help you sleep better at night, as well as help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Try to go for a walk, do some yoga, or perform other light physical exercise each day. Do something relaxing before bed, like listening to music, meditating, taking a hot bath, or reading a book.
2. Keep Your Activity Levels Reasonable
Cancer fatigue may mean that you’re no longer capable of doing as much as you did before the treatment. Now is the time to think about your priorities — what activities are most important to you? You may find that spending more time with your children or enjoying your favorite hobbies is more important than working a full schedule or doing some housework.
If you were already active prior to your cancer diagnosis, you can fight fatigue by trying to stay as active as possible. If you weren’t very active, you can still start a new exercise routine, simply by adding some light exercise to your daily routine. Even 15 to 30 minutes of stretching or walking can boost your energy. Talk to your doctor about how to safely add exercise to your daily routine.
Whether you’re able to accept help from a professional home health aide or you’ll be asking for help from friends and family, assistance can be invaluable when you’re struggling with cancer fatigue. Delegating tasks like cooking, cleaning, running errands, and driving can help you conserve energy levels for those things that are most important to you without sacrificing your quality of life.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet
It can be hard to maintain a healthy diet when shopping and cooking makes you tired. Nutritious, tasty recipes don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to prepare. Make eating well a priority. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meat, low-fat dairy, and whole grains can be easy to enjoy.
It’s normal to feel fatigue during cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor about ways to treat your fatigue, and take steps to keep your energy and strength up. Once your cancer treatment is finished, you’ll soon find your former energy levels returning.