Fatigue is the most common side effect of breast cancer and treatment. It is much more than just feeling lazy on a Sunday or having a day or two a week where you are tired. Fatigue is exhaustion that results in lack of energy or motivation, loss of appetite, irritability, the urge to sleep more, slow reflexes, and difficulty remembering or concentrating.
With fatigue, doing little tasks seem impossible. However, increasing energy levels and fighting depression are important for breast cancer health as well as quality of life. Here are some ways to help fight fatigue:
- Exercise: This doesn’t mean go outside and run a few miles every day. Exercise can be anything that gets you up and moving. Whether it’s walking the dog, unloading groceries, riding a bike, or cleaning around the house, there are so many ways to stay active. Start small, but then try to work your way up to exercising four hours a week. Staying active is vital for breast cancer health and improving overall quality of life.
- Eat Well: Fast food and takeout may seem more appealing when you have no energy, but what you eat may be contributing to your fatigue. Healthy proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables should dominate your diet because they provide your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. If you aren’t sure where to start, talk to your doctor about creating a dietary plan or check out our blog about creative ways to eat more vegetables.
- Holistic Techniques:There are many natural ways to alleviate fatigue. Holistic medicine treats the whole person, including their physical, emotional, and mental well-being, to ease symptoms of an illness and improve quality of life. For breast cancer, yoga, tai chi, reiki, meditation, massage, and acupuncture can all combat fatigue and give people more energy. Yoga and tai chi are also great forms of exercise, which is another important component in the fight against fatigue.
- Join a Support Group: For some, talking to family members and loved ones about your fatigue and other breast cancer health topics isn’t enough. That’s OK. In a support group, you can openly discuss how your feeling with other people who are struggling with the same issues or who have recently overcome them. They can offer invaluable advice, and you can make some friends along the way. If going to an in-person support group doesn’t seem appealing, there are many online forums, chats and discussion boards related to breast cancer health.
- Follow a Sleep Schedule: When people experience fatigue, they try to compensate by napping throughout the day. However, taking naps during can be detrimental to your sleep during the night. Instead, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, regardless of how tired you feel. This will help your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep/wake cycle, get back on track, allowing you to get more quality nighttime sleep.
These are only a few ways to help combat fatigue. However, if your symptoms continue, talk to your doctor to create a treatment plan for your fatigue. For more topics and tips related to breast cancer health and wellness, download our free Breast Cancer Wellness Guide, where our physicians provide the latest in breast cancer research.