Fatigue is the feeling of lacking energy and finding everyday tasks exhausting. It can affect the way you feel, and make it more difficult to enjoy even relaxing activities such as reading or watching TV.
It can affect your mood and your relationships, so you find yourself getting impatient with yourself and others, or upset and tearful over small things. You might find that you avoid spending time with friends or family, because it just feels too exhausting. It’s not unusual for fatigue to last for many months after treatment is over. In some people, it may last for a year or two.
Fatigue can show itself in other ways. You may find yourself wanting to spend longer and longer in bed in the morning, but still have problems sleeping. You may have difficulty accomplishing the smallest tasks and find that you are short of breath doing even light activities. Poor concentration or memory loss might also be a problem. You might find that you have lost all interest in sex, even though you have recovered physically from your surgery.
Ways to manage fatigue
- Regular exercise, perhaps a gentle walk, some stretching or a beginner’s yoga class, can help.
- Try to get some fresh air and gentle exercise every day even if you don’t really feel like it and gradually increase your time/distance, but allow time to rest afterwards.
- Take an afternoon nap if you need to, but get up again for the evening.
- Meditation, acupuncture, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, music therapy or reiki can help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Keep to a routine – try not to stay in bed in the morning after you’ve woken up.
- Eat as healthy a diet as possible to boost your energy levels.
- Drink water, squash, diluted juice or herbal tea regularly to keep you hydrated.
- Allow those close to you to help you with practical things like shopping and cleaning.
- If you feel your fatigue may be linked to anxiety or depression, speak to your GP or colorectal nurse specialist.