Tiredness is a common problem when you’re living with cancer – it can be difficult to get going in the morning. Here are some tips and strategies to help give you a boost and make you feel more ready for the day ahead.
by Dr Marian Trudgill
Around 70-80% of people experience extreme tiredness, or fatigue, during their cancer treatment. There can be a number of reasons for this, including the cancer itself, the side effects of treatment, pain, problems with sleeping or eating, a low blood count, and the emotional side of dealing with cancer.
Although some days you may not feel like getting out of bed at all, there are things you can do to boost your energy levels and make things feel more manageable. Here are some top tips to help you get started...
Give yourself an energy boost
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as the saying goes. Eating breakfast has a number of different health benefits, including kickstarting your metabolism, giving your body the energy and nutrients it needs to repair and recover, and improving mood and concentration.
Meanwhile, not eating well can lead to problems such as weight loss and a low red blood cell count (anaemia), and can make fatigue worse.
Some cancer treatments can affect your appetite, so that you might not feel like eating as much or as often. However, there are a range of tasty and energising breakfast options out there, which are easy to prepare, including: whole grain toast or bread with honey; a bowl of oatmeal or granola, topped with some nuts, bananas or fresh blueberries; or some scrambled eggs or fish, served with a portion of energy-boosting spinach.
Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy can also affect your mouth and your sense of taste. If you’re struggling to eat well due to mouth issues, making a breakfast smoothie from your favourite fruit and veg can offer a quick and simple pick-me-up - and they’re also packed full of vitamins and fibre. Check out these delicious smoothie recipes for some inspiration.
Many people also find that taking a nutritional supplement can help. (Note: you should always consult your doctor before taking any supplement.) Browse a range of products to help with eating well and nutritional support here.
Do some gentle stretches
It might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to persuade yourself out of bed, but doing some light low-impact exercise can actually help to energise your body and mind.
Exercise has a range of benefits, including decreasing fatigue, maintaining muscle mass, improving appetite and digestion, promoting better sleep at night, and supporting the healing process.
By just doing a few gentle yoga stretches every morning, you can help to get your body moving and boost your mood.
If you really don’t feel up to exercising, try taking a few quiet minutes to do some meditation or deep breathing, which will help you feel more energised and ready for the day ahead.
Set small daily goals
While you may not feel like doing all that much at the moment, it’s important to try and keep as active as possible.
Setting yourself some small, achievable goals can help. This could include anything from getting out of bed and getting washed and dressed, to going for a short walk or meeting a friend for coffee. Try breaking things down into single, manageable tasks.
Having some goals in place will help to give you a sense of structure and keep you focused and looking forward to the day ahead.
Try an energising treatment
If you’re looking for an extra boost in the morning, many people recommend using an energising balm, such as the Live Better With Energising Balm. Containing a carefully selected blend of essential oils, this refreshing balm will help to lift your mood and make you feel more awake and energised.
Meanwhile, to help with those tough days, the Live Better With community recommend Badger Cheerful Mind Balm, which contains essential oils of citrus and spearmint to help soothe and clear your mind and boost your spirit.
And for a bit of morning pampering, try the Beyond Beauty Morning Treatment serum by Defiant Beauty, which contains indulgent frankincense, ylang ylang and sandalwood for a luxurious start to the day.
We have a wide range of articles and guides on cancer fatigue, including Why does cancer make you feel tired?. And do read the Live Better With Guides to Cancer Fatigue and Having Difficulty Sleeping.
Do you have experience of cancer fatigue? If you have any tips for getting yourself going in the morning, or if you’re looking for advice or support, why not visit The Live Better With Community Forum.