Blog: Managing fatigue during the holidays

Tuesday 4 December 2018

With the holiday season upon us, we asked Sara Robson, a Specialist Allied Health Professional, to share some of her tips for managing fatigue in everyday life.

Fatigue (excessive tiredness) is one of the most common side-effects of brain tumours and their treatment. Christmas is a busy time of year and people might expect a lot from you. It is important to be able to balance this.

Plan, Pace, Prioritise! Sara's advice:

Plan your calendar, spread out big events and don't agree to attend too many things on one day. Plan your shopping trips in advance to help you avoid too much walking - you could even map out which shops you want to go to in which order.

Remember to pace your day slowly, don't try to rush around and get everything done in the morning. Plan in breaks, at a coffee shop if you're out shopping or just sitting down with a cup of tea and something to eat if you're doing jobs at home.

And don't forget you can always let the people you are with know that you'll be taking things a bit slower than usual.

Prioritising can be hard to do, try to plan in the things that are important to you and delegate some things to other people. You might want to prioritise the invitations you receive, think about the ones you really need or want to go to and the ones that are going to give you the biggest sense of wellbeing.

Look after yourself

Think about the things that will allow you to recharge your batteries if you run out of energy. Remember to sleep well, eat well and try taking a nap in the afternoon.

Other tips:

  • if you have two or three busy days in a row, leave a rest day where you can relax at home
  • if you can, do your shopping online or get items delivered so you don't have to carry heavy bags
  • try doing things sitting down to save energy, such as peeling vegetables or ironing
  • don't forget to delegate!

Q & As with Sara

Do you have any advice for managing fatigue when you have young children?

So managing fatigue with young ones around! Remember having young kids is tiring for everyone not just those with a diagnosis. You need to prioritise the things that are most important to YOU. Sleep when they sleep is reasonable advice, but it can make you feel that you are missing out on your adult time after they've gone to bed, so maybe pick one special night a week when you take short cuts during the day, or even nap in the afternoon, then you can leave yourself enough energy to have a grown up evening. Make sure you plan properly and let any partners or family know.

I'm finding cooking for my family very tiring. Do you have any suggestions to make this easier?

FROZEN VEG - it's great. Easier to carry home, always there in the freezer and good for them. Prep food in advance where you can and sit down rather than standing up - where possible. Plus BATCH COOK and freeze.

How long does fatigue normally last after surgery and what can I do if it's not improving?

Fatigue is so unique, there's no set time after treatment when it will resolve. For some people 6 months post surgery (with no further treatment) is realistic, but for others it does carry on. The best advice is gentle exercise within your own limits. Do things that make you feel good inside and spend at least some time with fresh air, or at least where you can see the outside and some nature around you.

I was always active before my recent surgery, but am still struggling to do anything. What can I do?

Being previously active will serve you well in the coming weeks and months. Exercise in the house may help if going out is too much and maybe just go out with friends and family to start with. Post-op sometimes even thinking and problem solving can be tiring, so going out alone, crossing roads or going to the local shop can take up an overwhelming amount of energy. Everyone is different, be patient with yourself.

How can I explain my fatigue to my friends and my family to help them understand how my fatigue affects me?

I think this is a really tricky one. You could start by asking them to imagine driving a car with a faulty fuel gauge and a leak in the fuel tank - and then ask them how would they drive? Most would say, slower, more economically, not speeding up and slowing down too much. That might help people understand how you feel.

To talk more about this with a member of our Information and Support Team, get in touch on 0808 800 0004, or email support@thebraintumourcharity.org.

Christmas opening hours

Christmas Eve 9am to 3pm
Christmas Day Closed
Boxing Day Closed
Thursday 27 December 10am to 3pm
Friday 28 December 10am to 3pm
Saturday 29 December Closed
Sunday 30 December Closed
Monday 31 December 10am to 3pm
Tuesday 1 January Closed
Wednesday 2 January Open as usual 9am to 9pm

If you need urgent help or support outside our working hours

If you are concerned about your health

Please contact your GP immediately, who may direct you to an out-of-hours service. Alternatively if you need to speak to someone urgently, please contact:

  • NHS (England) - 111
  • NHS Direct (Wales) - 0845 46 47 or 111 if available in your area (Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Carmarthenshire or Ystradgynlais in Powys). Calls to 0845 46 47 from landlines are charged at a local rate, but can be significantly more from a mobile phone; calls to 111 are free.
  • NHS 24 (Scotland) - 111
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, please dial 999 or your out-of-hours GP service.
    To find the out-of-hours number for your area, visit nidirect.gov.uk/out-of-hours
  • Or in an emergency, visit A&E or dial 999

If you need emotional support

Please phone one of these FREE helplines:

  • Samaritans (UK wide) Call: 116 123 anytime
  • Childline (UK wide) - for children and young people under 19 - 0800 1111 anytime
  • HopelineUK (UK wide) - for children and young people up to the age of 35 - 0800 068 4141. Mon - Fri 10am-10pm, weekends and bank holidays 2pm-10pm
  • The Silver Line (UK wide) - for older people aged 55 or over - 0800 4 70 80 90 anytime
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) (UK wide) - for men. 0800 58 58 58. 5pm - midnight, every day

You might also like to join one of our closed Facebook groups, so that you have peer-to-peer support 24/7, from other people who are going through a similar experience.

We promise to keep your data safe and you can unsubscribe at any time in the future. More information is in our Privacy Policy.