Planning your life around fatigue
If you have fatigue, planning ahead is important. Plan your day so that you have time to do the things you want to do most.
It’s important to be realistic about what you can do. You can use the fatigue diary [PDF] to write down the times when you feel your best and when you feel most tired. You need Adobe Acrobat Reader software to view PDF files like this fatigue diary. You can download the software free from the Adobe website.This may help you to plan your activities.
It has helped me to keep a fatigue diary. It can be really easy to forget what you’ve done in the day, and if you look back after a couple of weeks, you may see a difference. I’ve been doing the diary for a few weeks now and I can see an improvement. Most days I write down what I’ve done and I think I’m doing a few more bits and pieces around the house than before.
Keeping a note of your energy levels will help you identify the days and times when you have more energy. However, you may have to accept that you won’t be able to do everything you used to do. It may help to decide early on which activities you’re prepared to give up, at least until you feel more able to do them again.
While some people feel less tired in the mornings, others cope better in the afternoon. Try to plan bigger tasks to fit in with the time of day when you feel least tired. Pace yourself, and plan enough rest and sleep periods. It makes sense to plan a period of rest after a period of activity. Some people also find that they need to rest after meals.
Short naps and rest periods are useful, however, you need to balance them with some activity or exercise. Too much rest isn’t always a good thing as your muscles can weaken, which can make your fatigue worse. It’s important that any daytime rest doesn’t stop you from sleeping at night.
It’s also important to plan your days around your treatment. Try to avoid anything energetic or stressful for 24 hours before and after your treatments. If you feel less well on a particular day, it’s okay to be less active and to rest more.
Doing things for yourself can be very important, but try not to feel guilty if you have to ask other people to help. Often friends and relatives want to help and are pleased to be asked.
You may also find it helpful to see an occupational therapist from the hospital or from social services. They can help you find ways of saving your energy and may be able to visit you at home.