- Try a catnap. Beware of long naps, though. You might end up wide awake in the middle of the night. Daytime naps should be no more than 30 minutes so you won't fall into deep sleep. (Waking up groggy usually means you've napped too long.) If you find you need a nap every day, take it at a regularly scheduled time, but try not to nap after 2 p.m.
- Keep to a routine. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Don't stay in bed after you wake up. Make sure you get enough sleep and that you sleep for the same amount of time each night.
- Keep a diary of how you feel each day. Keep a daily diary of your fatigue to identify when it's the worst and when it's least troubling.
- Plan activities during the times you have the most energy. Schedule rest periods when your energy is lowest. Make sure you balance each activity with a rest period if you need it.
- Organize each day. Figure out what you have to do and when you need to do it. Pacing yourself helps to conserve your energy.
- Ask for help. Accept the offers of help and goodwill from family and friends. If no one has offered to help and everyone seems too busy, ask for what you need — even if asking is one of the hardest things for you to do. Get help with little things: taking out the trash, folding the laundry, or paying bills. Keep a list of things you need done so when people ask what they can do, you can give them the list.
- Join a support group. Sharing your feelings with others can ease the burden of your fatigue and give you more ideas about how you can cope with the condition. Your nurse or doctor can put you in touch with a support group in your area. For an online support group, visit the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards.
- Keep lists and make notes to remind you of important things if your memory and concentration are affected by fatigue. Also, give yourself more time for activities that take concentration.
- Be kind to yourself. If you're fatigued, don't beat yourself up because you can't do what you're "supposed" to do. That browbeating takes energy you can't afford to waste and can add to depression. Do nice things for yourself and give yourself permission to rest and recover, for as long as it takes.
Expert QuotePeople tell us that the experience of the support group isn't something that changes the sensation of fatigue, but it changes their feeling that they are alone in the experience and it helps them to think of practical things to say when family members ask if they are still tired, or when co-workers expect that the fatigue ends when the treatment ends.
Kutluk Oktay, M.D.