Living with and managing fatigue

Ashley
A tired dog laying on a bed

Fatigue is an extreme tiredness that can come on at any time and doesn't get better with rest. The causes of fatigue after stroke aren’t yet fully understood. This blog has a few tips and advice for how you can manage your fatigue.

Let's start with the elephant in the room. Fatigue is not just being a bit sleepy. And it isn't going to go away after a short nap.

One stroke survivor has described it as "one of the most debilitating aspects of the [recovery] process."

Fatigue is an extreme tiredness that can come on at any time and doesn't get better with rest. The causes of fatigue after stroke aren’t yet fully understood. It can happen after a small stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) as well as a severe stroke.

In this blog, I'm going to go through a few tips and advice for how you can manage your fatigue.

Managing your fatigue

The first bit of advice I want to give is that you should speak to your GP about your fatigue. They can then help you review anything that may be contributing. This could include the effects of your stroke, certain health conditions and medication side effects.

If you've already spoken to your GP and are looking for other things you can do to better manage your fatigue, keep reading.

Find what motivates you

Stroke survivor Keith talks in the below video about how his life was impacted by fatigue following his stroke.

He says that the thing that helped him most was his on determination to get better. Having the motivation to improve kept him working at it.

Set yourself a goal and track your progress against it over time. You could try keeping a diary of what you do each day. Occasionally flip back over weeks or even months to see how much you've achieved.

A diary can also help you pinpoint which activities can make your fatigue worse.

As Keith says, sometimes you have to accept that you might not be able to do something perfectly. But you also need to recognise that you are getting better at it.

Listen to your body

After your stroke, it's important that you don’t force yourself to do everything straight away. Physical activity can help with fatigue. But if you push too hard, you risk making it worse.

Instead, pace yourself and rebuild your stamina slowly. Start with just a few minutes and slowly build up.

If your body is telling you to rest, it's important to rest. Don't push passed your own limits.

You could try one of our online movement classes. These videos are designed for stroke survivors, and you can choose your own activity level.

Plan, plan, plan (and have a backup plan)

As you can see in this video, Patricia plans out everything to help manage her fatigue.

The goal behind this kind of planning is to avoid overdoing it. You may find yourself fatigued halfway through the day if you schedule too much in. This may even lead to you missing out on something you really wanted to do.

Plan realistically and leave gaps in your schedule for rest. Don’t plan too much for tomorrow just because you’re having a ‘good day’ today.

Communicate

This goes hand-in-hand with Patricia's planning suggestion. Your family and friends will be better able to provide support if they know you're going to be and how your fatigue is affecting you.

This is especially important when you are planning for gatherings or events. Whether online or in person. If you can't make it or don't feel up to staying for the whole time, let them know.

The idea is that they know what to expect. But also that they understand why you might not be able to commit to things.

Establish a regular sleeping habit

Although a nap isn't going to fix your fatigue, having a regular sleeping pattern can help in managing it.

Try going to bed at a set time every day. This helps to tell your body when it is time to sleep and recover.

You may also want to avoid caffeine close to your bed time. Some people also find it useful to have a wind down routine before bed. This could include curling up on the sofa with a good book or listening to some relaxing music.

If you are finding it hard to sleep at night, you may even want to try not to nap during the day.

How long will this fatigue last?

Fatigue often improves over time, but it's important to take it seriously because it can have a big impact on your life.

There's no specific treatment for fatigue. Learning what triggers fatigue and finding ways to manage it can make it easier to deal with.

Find out more on our 'Fatigue and tiredness' webpage. This video also has more tips and advice on managing fatigue.

Latest Blogs

When the pandemic hit, we heard from many stroke survivors and carers who felt even more…

It's important to know that many people do successfully return to work after stroke. If…

The new My Stroke Guide forum is built so that you can use it easily on your mobile. There is…

Fatigue is an extreme tiredness that can come on at any time and doesn't get better with rest.…

We look back over the year at what challenges we faced launching the new My Stroke Guide. We…

Doing something you love, for fun, relaxation or learning, can help you feel good, assist your…