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While you may not be able to eliminate fatigue caused by your disease or treatment, there are steps you can takek to make living with fatigue easier. A list of steps follows. Information about each of these steps is contained in the other sections of this article.

  • Communicate with your health care team and let them know the extent of your fatigue and how it is affecting your life.
  • Conserve energy while being as active as possible.
  • Exercise (even mild exercise).
  • Schedule your days.
  • Keep track of your symptoms.
  • Decrease stress as much as you can.
  • Get emotional support.  
    • Keep the lines of communication open. Share your concerns and emotions with team members such as spouses, partners, family members and friends -- even if it's only on the telephone. 
    • Consider joining a support group of people going through what you're going through. Support groups can be validating, help you view your fatigue differently, and/or can provide helpful tips for living with fatigue. To learn more about why to join a support group, how to find one that works for you, and tips about support groups, click here.
  • Optimize nutrition. Follow simple tips for when you are too tired to cook such as making meals ahead of time and storing them in ready-to-eat single portions.
  • Consider:
    • Taking health supplements to help boost energy levels  [after first clearing your choice(s) with your doctor]
    • Asking for medication to manage fatigue from side effects such as anemia or infection.
  • Consider complementary therapies.
  • Beware of illegal stimulants. Substances such as cocaine or crystal meth may provide temporary relief to fatigue, but are not recommended because: 
    • They are illegal. Do you really want to spend precious time in jail?
    • They are usually followed by a devastating crash.
    • They are likely to interfere with compliance with your drug and/or treatment protocols, which can impact your health condition negatively.


  • Be sure to report symptoms of fatigue and/or depression to your doctor or other health care provider.
  • Initial studies  offsite linkindicate that light therapy may help fight fatigue.

Communicate With Your Health Care Team

The first key to managing fatigue is communication between the patient and health care team. Medicine today can help make fatigue manageable, as well as such specific conditions as:

  • Anemia
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Medications which cause fatigue

Consider Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies such as meditation and massage can help reduce stress and depression, possibly boost the immune system, and help reduce pain, fatigue and even nausea.

Note that the word we use to describe these therapies is "complementary" instead of "alternative."  A wise health consumer considers all techniques available to help a particular situation. You are seldom required to choose "either/or." Keep in mind that if you are considering using one of these techniques instead of traditional U.S. medicine, none of them have evern been proved to cure illness.

For information about complementary therapies in general, click here. For information about specific complementary therapies, click on the following link. 

For information about the following subjects, click on the link:

NOTE: At least one study has found that light therapy, known as systematic light exposure, helped patients feel less fatigued.

How To Maximize Use Of Energy

While experience shows that it is advisable to conserve energy and only use it as necessary, conservation needs to be balanced with spending energy during the day so that normal fatigue helps you sleep. Tips which have worked for other people incude:

  • Prepare a schedule each day
    • Plan your day so you don't overwhelm yourself. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
    • Divide your "to do" list into things that you need to do today and things that would be nice to do. Keep "nice to do" on hold until you're feeling more energetic.
    • Schedule more strenuous or high energy activities during peak energy periods
    • Spread activities throughout the day to prevent over exertion and loss of energy reserves
    • Balance light and heavy tasks
    • When possible, give priority to what's important to you versus what's important to other people.
  • Delegate responsiblities and chores to other people whenever possible, especially less valued items and items which are fatiguing
  • Identify energy depleting activities
  • Look for ways to use less energy when going about your activities. For example:
    • Consider sitting on a chair in the shower 
    • Sit on a stool with wheels in the kitchen.
    • Drag or slide objects rather than lifting them.
    • Make meals which are easy to prepare.
    • Cook more than you need and freeze the rest for another meal.
    • Shop online.
    • When you go grocery shopping (per Cancer Care):
      • Shop at less busy times so you won't have to wait in long lines.
      • Organize your list in the order you'll find the items in the supermarket.
      • Ask for help getting your bags to the car.
    • At work and at home, place things that you use often within easy reach.
  • Stop before you feel tired.
  • Choose family activities that allow you to sit down and relax while participating.
  • Choose activities that involve less expenditure of energy, such as reading or listening to music.
  • Eliminate all unnecessary tasks
  • Do what you can to maintain energy levels to prevent progressive loss of function
  • Retrieve all items needed to do a task before beginning the task
  • Avoid rushing
    • Work at a steady pace.
    • Allow enough time to perform a task.
    • Know your limitations

Tips About Daily Activities


  • Put all necessary items in one easy-to-reach place
  • Organize your bathing area to minimize effort while bathing. For example:
    • Use a shower a shower caddy.
    • Use a long handled sponge to wash your back and feet
    • Use "soap-on-a-rope" so you don't have to bend to pick up dropped soap
    • If you shower, a detachable shower head helps avoid leaning and reaching while bathing
  • Bathe when you have the most energy.
  • Avoid very hot or very cold water temperatures
  • To dry off:
    • Sit
    • Use a terry cloth robe instead of drying off with a towel


Meals can be delivered by family and friends. Meals and deliveries can be coordinated through such websites as MealTrain offsite link where you can also list foods you do and do not like.


  • Get organized.
    • Organize your drawers and closet.
    • Gather everything you will wear together before starting to dress
  • Give yourself time to dress so you do not have to rush.
  • Sit whenever possible.
  • Wear clothes that fasten in the front.
  • Wear pants with an elastic waist band.
  • Wear slip-on shoes. Use a long handled shoe horn to avoid bending.


  • Get help, particularly with heavy work. 
    • Keep in mind that family and friends are part of your health care team. Organize their help through such web sites as offsite link
    • If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service. If not all the time, at least once in a while to do the heavy work.
  • Do as much work as possible sitting down.
  • Use both hands when dusting or cleaning windows.
  • Do not try to clean the entire residence in one day. Instead, break up the work over the course of a week.
  • When vacuuming, move slowly with the cleaner instead of pushing it
  • When dusting or cleaning floors, use long handled dusters, dustpans and mops
  • Use a mop to clean up spills
  • Keep a trash can in every room.
  • If possible, store cleaning supplies near where they will be used. For example, bathroom cleaning supplies in the bathroom.


  • See the suggestions in our document about sleep by clicking here.

Optimize Nutrition

Everyone needs a good, balanced diet, with enough calories, protein, fruits and vegetables. This can be particularly difficult when fatigue decreases appetite or the ability to prepare a meal.

Conside the following tips:

  • Try to eat complex carbohydrates, such as grains and vegetables, which provide a great deal of energy.
  • Try small, frequent meals throughout the day - particularly foods that are easy to eat.
  • Cooking
    • When you feel well, prepare extra food that you can freeze in individual sized packages for the days you do not feel well.
    • Reduce the energy required for clean-up by cooking in aluminum foil and eating with disposable plates and utensils.
  • Keep grab-and-go snacks around such as yogurt, cracker, nuts, peanut butter and crackers..
  • Drink 8 - 10 glasses of water a day to help your body maintain hydration and to eliminate the waste products of treatment. The waste products may be associated with fatigue.
  • Consider supplements such as Ensure.
  • Make a smoothie in the morning and safe half for la ter in the day.
  • Consider consulting a nutritionist or dietician to create the appropriate nutritional plan for your particular situation.
  • A multivitamin is usually recommended to assure you receive enough vitamins.

For additional information about nutrition, click here.

NOTE: Check with your doctor or other health care provider before starting any new regimen, including taking herbs, vitamins or other supplements.

Exercise (And Fatigue)

While fatigue can produce the instinct not to exercise, researchers have found that exercise can counter the effects of disease or treatment related fatigue. Exercise also have the following benefits: decreases anxiety, helps promote better sleep and helps maintain muscle function. Without exercise, the body can quickly lose muscle mass, function, cardio ability, stamina and strength. 

Even mild exercise such as walking several times a week can help reduce fatigue.

A few tips that other people have found to be helpful:

  • The key to appropriate exercise is consistency. Set a schedule which fjocuses on those periods of the day when you feel most energetic. Do your best to keep to it.
  • Keep a diary. Keeping track of your exercise and successes at keeping on schedule will help motivate you.
  • Exercising with a partner makes you more accountable. 
  • Listen to music or watch tv/a video. It makes exercise more fun and can distract you. 
  • Avoid mirrors if possible. There is a tendency to focus on our negative parts.

Consider locating a trainer who is experienced helping people with disease related fatigue to help design and get you started on an individualized exercise program. Modifications can be made as your health status changes.

Discuss physical exercise with your doctor before you start exercising or before you increase what you are doing.

For additional information about exercise, click here.


  • If you are considering water based exercise, you do not need equipment or even know how to swim. Some programs involve just walking in the water, floating or movement exercises.  The water provides both resistance and buoyancy. 
  • If ou are undergoing radiation therapy, it is not advisable to go into a pool. Chlorine may irritate irradiated skin.
  • If you have a PICC line, catheter or feeding tube, it is best not to go into a pool to avoid infections.

Build In Rest Periods

A rest break helps you get through the day, 

  • Schedule rest breaks into your daily routine for recovery periods from activity. For example, when you plan an activity, leave time for a rest period afterward. 
  • Consider taking a ten minute rest break every hour.
  • Rest BEFORE you feel fatigued.

Shorter rest periods are reported to be better than one long one.

It is also reported to help if you set regular times to nap so the body becomes used to a routine.

If you are particularly fatigued just after a treatment, schedule it for the afternoon so you can do work in the morning.

Keep Track Of Your Symptoms

If you keep track of your symptoms, you can describe them accurately to your health care team. Keeping track may also help you adjust your schedule to maximize use of your energy.

Consider using our Symptoms Diary to help keep track. In addition to allowing for easy tracking, a push of a button turns the information into an easy-to-read graph to help:

  • Keep track of your good and bad days. You may see a pattern.
  • Maximize your time with your doctor or other health care professional. Include what helps to relieve your fatigue and what makes your fatigue worse.

Decrease Stress As Much As You Can

It's clearly no news that events and life can be stressful. There are techniques to help deal with stress.

One of the simple things you can do is to incorporate into every day something that you look forward to that makes you happy.

To learn additional techniques for reducing stress, click here.

Consider Health Supplements

The following supplements may help deal with fatigue: 

  • A good multivitamin.
  • A B-12 shot.
  • A Chinese-herb formula called Marrow Plus
  • DHEA

For information about supplements, click here.

Caution: do not take supplements without checking with your doctor to be sure they do not interfere with any prescribed or over-the-counter medications you are taking.