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HealthInfo Canterbury

Managing fatigue

In some cases, there isn't a permanent cure for fatigue, but there are some effective steps you can take to manage it. Managing your fatigue and feeling in control so it doesn't rule your life is important.

There is no single, correct way to manage fatigue, however. Here is a list of strategies that other people have found useful:

Stay informed

Find out more about fatigue as it relates to your specific condition. Use the links below or talk with a friend, family member, or occupational therapist about your fatigue and how to manage it.

Understand how fatigue affects you

Try asking yourself these questions to help understand your fatigue and identify what activities or situations trigger fatigue for you:

Keep a fatigue diary for a week or two. This can be useful for identifying patterns or common triggers.

Know what energises you

Recognise what activities or environments energise you. Write these energisers down in your fatigue diary and incorporate these things into your daily routine.

Exercise

ACL swimmingGraded and regular exercise improves the symptoms of fatigue.

Find an enjoyable exercise activity that you can manage on a daily basis. Keeping moving and staying fit, strong, and flexible keeps your body and mind working efficiently.

Have a balance of rest and activity

If rests during the day mean you achieve activity goals or get through the day better, make sure you take them.

Some people find having a midday sleep is useful. Other people find a quiet lie down in a dark room effective. Try to avoid sleeping during the day if it affects the quality of your sleep at night. Resting in front of the TV, computer, or while listening to music is not good quality rest.

Relaxation techniques, calm breathing, and meditation can be a helpful way of recharging your batteries in a short space of time.

Balancing your daily activities according to your energy levels can sometimes let you achieve more. This involves thinking ahead and planning your day according to your energy levels. But make sure you schedule some time for fun!

Conserve your energy

Changing the way you do certain activities or changing your expectations of yourself can give you more energy for the important things in life.

Try strategies such as pacing, prioritising, planning, reorganising your environment, and using tools and devices. These are all helpful ways of saving energy. See Conserving energy for more information about these ideas.

For tips to help you manage everyday activities such as shopping, cooking, child care, and personal care, see Managing everyday activities if you have fatigue from MacMillan Cancer Support.

Make sure you get good sleep at night

See Tips for sleeping well (sleep hygiene).

Eat well

Make sure you are eating a balanced diet of nutritious food, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and whole foods. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks as a pick-me-up. Instead, find an alternative activity or rest to replace the need for stimulants.

Look after your mental wellbeing

It can be common for people who experience fatigue to become depressed or anxious. Make sure you look after your mental wellbeing.

Manage your stress and practise calm breathing.

Communicate

older couple walkingTalking with an understanding person about your fatigue can be useful. Let people in your life know what is going on for you and give them suggestions about how they can support you.

It's okay to ask for help. More often than not, people are happy to help out.

You may find it useful to join a support group and talk with others who are experiencing fatigue. Learning from each other can be helpful.

The Multiple Sclerosis & Parkinson's Society runs a course for people with MS who have fatigue. It is called Minimise Fatigue, Maximise Life: Creating Balance with Multiple Sclerosis. Contact Multiple Sclerosis & Parkinson's Canterbury for more information.

Move forward

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Written by the Occupational Therapy Canterbury HealthInfo Workgroup. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2017. Last updated July 2018.

Page reference: 273438

Review key: HIFAT-275459