10 Ways I Handle Cancer Fatigue
Low energy is the main challenge of cancer survivors. It can linger for 10 years after treatment. Fatigue has been an ongoing side effect of chemo and it's one I am learning to get a better handle on. Energy is everything. It means good health and it means I can do more of what makes me happy. When I am drained, I don’t cook, I don’t read and I don’t exercise.
I know that the more time I spend on something, the more it will develop into what I want. It’s like preparing for a test. It's simple math; It's about putting the time in. The more time I spend studying, the better the score will be. I just need to figure out what works, how to do more of it and to be consistent. My current project: to overcome chronic fatigue
Last summer in June 2017, the temperature was in the 90's. I had been waking up an hour and a half later than usual. These are some things that helped:
Kombucha. Instead of only turning to coffee for a pick-me-up, kombucha is a good alternative. It has caffeine to give me a little boost, but it doesn’t get me irritable like coffee can. It's not acidic like coffee either, it's alkalizing when you drink it, like lemon juice.
Another great thing about kombucha is if I’m having problems digesting or my stomach feels sluggish, kombucha helps pretty much every time.
Carbonated water I don’t have to drink kombucha, it can be just carbonated water. The carbonation alone has an immediate effect. You can feel the energy from the fizzy bubbles in your mouth and going down the throat, waking up the body. Instead of buying bottled fizzy water, we use a Sodastream. I got mine from a CraigsList ad and it was new for almost half the price.
Matcha powder. Usually when you have tea, you steep a bag of tea leaves in hot water and throw away the leaves. Matcha powder is ground up matcha tea leaves, so it's more potent and full of anti-oxidants. You can have it with plain, hot water but I prefer it with nut milk. You’ll have to whisk it in or blend it because it doesn’t dissolve easily.
Matcha powder can be pricey, but a little bit goes a long way. Here’s a link to a smoothie recipe. I usually make a batch big enough for at least 4 servings to save on time.
Vitamin B spray. Another really great energy booster is a vitamin B spray from Garden of life. It has methylcobalamin which is superior to cyanocobalamin. I used to take vitamin B capsules but it isn't as easy assimilated as in liquid form. I found out about this spray when I learned that a vitamin B deficiency is associated with vertigo. I've had it once so far and after using the spray, it hasn't happened again. It’s a win win; I keep the vertigo away and keep my energy up.
At first, I did one spray in the morning right after waking up. I gave it a few days for it to work, then I started taking a second spray around 11am and that’s when I noticed the difference. The afternoon slump that happens between 2 and 4 PM was either not as bad or totally gone! And the raspberry flavored spray actually tastes good; it’s sweet and fruity. The price of the bottle is very reasonable too at about $13 for 2oz, there’s just no reason why you shouldn’t try it.
Affirmations. At bedtime, I’ll either think or say out loud “I will wake up earlier no matter how much sleep I get.” Out of the four out of the five times I’ve done this so far, I did wake up around 6am instead of almost 8am.
Surrender by letting go of expectations, attachments and self-imposed responsibilities.
Get the right massage. I used to enjoy deep tissue massages using very firm pressure because I wanted the stiff knots to get worked out of me. But I wasn't able to fully relax because I would be stressing my body, anticipating the next painful touch. I started asking for softer pressure and choosing Swedish over Thai. If the masseuse is using the right pressure isn’t moving at a very slow space, the massage can release tense body parts and be energizing.
Zone out. I can keep my mind from wandering by organizing or tidying. I actually enjoy it, especially after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Tidying up the home is always something that could be done, whether it is to put things in their place or to go deeper and get rid of things that have accumulated.
I can either look at it as a negative thing or take this inevitable recurring chore and turn it into a meditative task. While I tidy or organize, I lose track of time and when it comes to an end, things have been returned to their designated spots and our home is neat and more peaceful.
Instead of a taking a nap or drinking caffeine, I started powering through by taking a walk. After a 30-minute walk, I usually feel energized again. If I choose to push through, I know to push a little longer, otherwise, it could land me in bed for a few hours if I go too far. By adding on 5 or 10 minutes, I increase my endurance while staying within my limitations.
Sometimes none of the above alleviates the fatigue. It is what it is. I try remind myself to be in acceptance. Whether it's defeat, anger or apathy, I let myself feel what I feel and I try to remember that it is temporary. Below are some other helpful affirmations:
“I’m tired and that’s okay.”
“Never get angry at a fact.”
"I am in alpha state so creativity flows better. I can come up with better solutions to challenges."
“This is a test. Surrender into this moment, no matter what happens.”
“All delays are beneficial. I have impeccable timing.