Fatigue is the medical word for feeling tired most or all of the time. People may describe it in a variety of ways, using terms such as weak, exhausted, weary, worn-out, etc. This level of tiredness will vary between individuals. Although many people are able to carry on with their normal routine, others may find it difficult to cope.
Sometimes this tiredness can feel overwhelming and leave you with little energy, or motivation, for everyday tasks. Tiredness affects everyone differently.
Many people with chest, heart and stroke conditions experience tiredness or fatigue.
This fact sheet provides information, tips and strategies that you can build into your daily life to help reduce tiredness and conserve energy and ultimately it'll reduce fatigue as well. Try to accept that you will have good days as well as days when you will feel more tired.
There are many things that can be done to make the problem of Tiredness more bearable. Here are some suggestions to help you cope:
- Pace yourself- Give yourself time to do things. Alternate work / chores and rest by doing things in small stages. Do most energy-consuming tasks at the time of day / week when you have most energy, but be flexible and plan rest periods.
- Get good quality sleep- It is important to get as good a quality of sleep as possible. A few hours deep and restorative sleep is more beneficial than hours of poor quality sleep.
- Eat energy giving foods- Aim to eat a well balanced diet with foods rich in iron and vitamins (e.g. liver, spinach, fortified cereals). Slow burning carbohydrates are good as they provide energy gradually. Examples include: whole grains, pasta, rice, cereals, oats, beans and lentils. Sweets and chocolate give you a rush of energy that only lasts for a short time so try not to eat these regularly. Eating small meals more often is easier for the body to digest than 3 large meals. It also helps to provides energy more evenly throughout the day. Cook when you have more energy and freeze some of the prepared food for the days that you feel tired. Have a stock of healthy readymade meals for the days when you don't feel like cooking.
- Learn to relax- Sometimes the harder you try to do something the harder it is to do, which can cause tension, anxiety and frustration. All this takes more energy. Being relaxed lets you use your energy more efficiently. You could try breathing exercises, meditation, listening to soothing music or talking to someone you trust and letting go of your anxieties.
- Every day do something you enjoy- A positive attitude, outlook or experience helps enormously in boosting energy levels. Boredom is a very common trigger for feelings of tiredness. Pick up your old hobbies or try a new one and do a little every day.
- Have light exercise- Regular light exercises have been shown to decrease tiredness and fatigue. If you are used to regular exercise try to continue with this if you feel able. Even taking short walks in the fresh air may help to boost your energy levels. Before undertaking any gentle exercise please, consult with your doctor.
- Lose weight to gain energy- If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and you'll feel much more energetic. Apart from eating healthily, the best way to lose weight is to be more active and do more exercise.
- Get assistance- Domestic chores use up a lot of energy and you could get help with them. Friends and family could help with shopping and housework or social services may be able to arrange help for you. It doesn't mean you are becoming dependent, it means you are using your energy to its best advantage.
- Contact your family doctor- Tell your doctor how you feel and make sure you have had an up-to-date physical. Besides evaluating any medical reasons for your tiredness, your doctor also may check to see if your fatigue could be a side effect of your medication.
- Talking therapy beats fatigue- There's some evidence that talking therapies such as counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) might help to fight fatigue. See your GP for a referral for talking treatment on the NHS or for advice on seeing a private therapist.
Some of the suggestions will be more effective for some people than others. Experiment with different combinations. Find what works best for you, plan ahead and don't be afraid to ask for help.-By Brad P Yantzi