Sara Robson, Brain Tumour Rehabilitation Specialist, gives practical advice on how to cope with fatigue.
There is no cure for fatigue, but many people improve within six months to a year after treatment. Within that time, however, it can be debilitating, and some people do experience it for longer. We have put together some tips to help you cope with fatigue.
Up to 80% of people think there is nothing that can be done for tumour-related fatigue and don't mention it to their doctors. If fatigue is affecting your quality of life, speak to your health team.
Your health team can help with elements that are treatable, such as pain, anxiety, depression, anaemia, or refer you to other specialists that can help such as counsellors, support groups, complementary therapists.
Fatigue can form a vicious circle with the side-effects of brain tumours and their treatments. If you can work out what makes you fatigued, you may be able to find a way to break the circle.
Many people have found the 'three P's' helpful, prioritising, planning, pacing.
Write a list of activities that you do regularly
Assign priorities to them, with number one being the most important to you.
If you find this tricky, alternatively split the activities into four categories:
I have to do I want to do Someone else can do Don't need doing at all (or not so often)
Keep a fatigue diary
Keep a diary of your activities and when you feel fatigued to identify possible triggers and patterns in your energy levels.
Use this information, with your list of priorities, to plan your day.
Set yourself realistic goals
Goals give a sense of purpose, and achieving them makes us feel good, but don't be too ambitious.
Make an action plan, carry it out, change it (if needed). Reward yourself for your achievements.
Break down your tasks into smaller, manageable chunks
Use the categories in the prioritising section to break one large or more difficult task into manageable chunks.
Take frequent breaks
Plan short rest breaks throughout the day, but try not to sleep during these rests, as this could affect your sleeping pattern.
As a guide, rest for 10 minutes in every hour and change activities after an hour.
Stop if you are getting tired
Review and amend your plan later.
Keep 20-30% energy in reserve
'Spend' and 'save' energy wisely e.g. shop online, or ask others to help you.
Treat specific causes
Stay physically active
Keep your mind active
Have a regular sleep pattern
Eat like a marathon runner!
Manage stress and anxiety
Find information and talk about it
Analogies about conserving energy can be useful when explaining how you feel:
We have developed a range of employment resources which may help you when explaining the effects of your brain tumour to your employer or when you are looking for work.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, we offer a range of support, from advice over the phone to events where you can meet and share experiences with others.
You may also wish to join one of our friendly and supportive Facebook groups.
Although the following apps are not related to 'tumour-related fatigue' specifically, they could be useful to use to help manage your fatigue and find ways to cope with it day to day.
We do not recommend, and have not vetted, individual external resources.
Page last reviewed: 06/2016
Next review due: 06/2019
If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:
0808 800 0004 (free from landlines and mobiles)
Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00
You can also join our active online community on Facebook - find out more about our groups.