How to Manage Fatigue

Am I fatigued, or just exhausted?

Fatigue1All of us BigD-ers feel weary at times. I’m often most tired just before I dialyse. Some days I arrive at the unit, dragging one foot after the other, dead tired. Putting my needles in can be as marathon effort. And once I’m on, I sit back, suck a couple of ice cubes, close my eyes and I’m in dozy land.

But half an hour later, I wake, bright and rested.

Thinking about it, most times I’m physically tired from my physical activity throughout the morning – my early morning walk, house stuff, running around, computer work. By the time I get to dialysis, I’m exhausted and ready for a long sit-down. And the sit-down solves the problem.

Exhausted manOn the other hand, fatigue is a lingering tiredness that is constant and limiting. With fatigue, you have unexplained, persistent, and relapsing tiredness, that is not relieved by naps or long periods of rest. So how can we manage fatigue?

Guest post: How to Manage Fatigue

This pithy and practical guest post is from Constance Peng, Provisional Psychologist / PhD student at the University of NSW in Sydney, Australia. It has some great advice and ideas to help us BigD-ers put a little more energy into our day.

At least 60% of dialysis patients say they often feel fatigued

Fatigue makes it difficult to participate in enjoyable and meaningful activities, can lead to depressed moods and overall poorer quality of life. If you are one of the 60 per cent, and your doctor has not identified any medical reasons for your fatigue (e.g. anaemia, hyperparathyroidism), then it is worth thinking about making some lifestyle changes.

Studies have shown that dialysis patients who have poor sleep and are physically inactive tend to experience more fatigue.

Some tips to help you improve the quality of your sleep and increase your physical activity

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on weekends). This will train your body to know when it should be asleep.

Limit your daytime naps to 30 minutes and have them before 3pm, unless your doctor advises you to nap more often. Try not to nap during your dialysis treatment. However, if you do, remember that napping excessively during the day makes you more awake at night.

Sleep only when you are sleepy. If you cannot fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up out of bed and do something boring until you feel sleepy.

ActiveSchedule in daily exercise you can easily fit in between your dialysis treatments and other commitments. It can be as simple as 15 minutes of slow walking, stretching or gardening. Stick to this no matter how tired you feel.

Pump it higher!Practice pacing. If you try to do too much on days you feel good, then you will feel too tired the next day to do much. This is a called a “boom and bust cycle” and you will end up doing less over time. Instead, aim to gradually increase your physical activity over time. For example, you can increase the length of your daily walk by five minutes every fortnight. Stick to this plan no matter how tired or energetic you feel.

If you would like further information on how you can tackle fatigue by changing your behaviours and patterns of thinking, it may be worth speaking to a Clinical Psychologist, who can explore the underlying causes of your fatigue and use effective techniques to help you get more out of life!

The BeanThis article first appeared in The Bean, the newsletter of the Concord Hospital Renal Unit, Concord, NSW.  Thanks, Constance for sharing it with us!

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