Lots of things can cause fatigue, so there’s no one treatment that can get rid of it completely. But there are lots of things you can do to improve or manage your fatigue. Read the information below to find out how small changes to your life can make a big difference.
You can also visit our How to manage fatigue guide or use our free Specialist Nurse-led fatigue support service.
Talk to your doctor or nurse
Let your doctor know if you have fatigue. They can help you understand what might be making your fatigue worse and help you find ways to manage your fatigue. They can also check for any other health problems that might be causing your fatigue or making it worse.
Physical activity can help to improve fatigue. Read more about physical activity to improve fatigue.
Plan ahead and take things slowly
You might not have enough energy to do everything you used to do. But if you plan ahead, you can try to do the things that are most important to you.
Keeping a diary can help you plan your activities. Download our fatigue diary.
The five Ps
Some men find thinking about ‘the five Ps’ helpful when planning their time.
- Plan. Write a list of all the things you have to do.
- Prioritise. Work out what’s most important to you each day and put that at the top of your list.
- Pace. Allow extra time to get things done. Stop before you get too tired.
- Permission. Give yourself permission to do things differently and take things easy for a while.
- Position. Make the task easier. Could you sit down instead of stand?
Get help with emotional problems
Fatigue can sometimes be linked to feeling depressed or anxious. Feeling down can make you feel less energetic, and worrying all the time can affect your sleep and make your fatigue worse. If you’re having any of these feelings, talking to someone or getting some support can help. Read more about emotional impact of prostate cancer and what can help.
Ask for help
It can be difficult to ask for help when you’re used to being independent. But partners, family members and friends will usually want to help. Think about which activities you want to do for yourself, and which ones someone else could do for you.
Make time to relax
Taking time to relax is really important. It can help with the stress of having cancer treatment and with fatigue. Try to find time to relax every day, for example by meditating, doing breathing exercises, or listening to music or an audiobook.
Eat and drink well
Eating a healthy diet can boost your energy levels. If you have problems with your diet, ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian. Read more about healthy eating.
If you don’t have the energy to prepare food for yourself, you could ask a friend or family member to help. Or you can order healthy, cooked meals to be delivered to your home, from your local authority or a private company. Find out more about getting meals delivered.
Drinking plenty of fluids can improve your energy levels. Try to drink around 1.5 to 2 litres (3 to 4 pints) of water a day. If you often need to urinate at night, you may worry about drinking a lot. But drinking plenty of water can help to prevent bladder irritation – this means you may not need to urinate so often and may sleep better at night. However, it might help to drink less in the two hours before you go to bed. And try to avoid fizzy drinks, alcohol, and drinks that contain caffeine (tea, coffee and cola), as these can irritate your bladder and make you urinate more often.
Sort out your sleep
Although fatigue doesn’t always improve when you rest, sleeping well can help to improve your fatigue. The following tips may help you get a proper rest at night.
During the day
- Do some physical activity. Regular physical activity can help you sleep better.
- Try to stick to a routine so your body gets used to going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
- Avoid sleeping during the day if you can. If you’re feeling very tired during the day, try resting or doing a relaxing activity, rather than sleeping.
Before you go to sleep
- Feeling hungry can disturb your sleep. Have a bedtime snack, like a banana.
- Try to cut down on all drinks in the evening, even water, so you don’t have to get up to urinate so often. Make sure you still drink plenty of water during the day.
- Avoid food and drinks that contain caffeine or sugar as they will keep you awake. This includes tea, coffee, and cola.
- Avoid drinks that might irritate your bladder and make you get up more in the night to urinate. This includes fizzy drinks, alcohol and drinks that contain caffeine.
- Don’t watch TV or use electronic devices such as a computer, tablet computer or mobile phone for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
- Keep a worry book. If you can’t get to sleep because you’re worrying about something, write it down. Look at your worries during the day and ask your family, friends and medical team if they can help you sort them out.
Prepare your bedroom
- Make sure there isn’t too much light in your bedroom. An eye mask and dark blinds or curtains might help.
- Make your bedroom as quiet as possible. You could try using ear plugs.
- Make your bedroom a comfortable temperature. This can be particularly important if you have hot flushes that wake you up at night.
If you’re still having trouble sleeping, speak to your GP or call our Specialist Nurses. Your GP may sometimes prescribe a course of sleeping pills to help you get some rest.
Complementary therapies may be used alongside medical treatment. Small studies have found that yoga, acupuncture, meditation and massage can improve fatigue in people who have cancer.
Some complementary therapies may have side effects or may interfere with your cancer treatment. So make sure your doctor or nurse knows about any complementary therapies you’re using or thinking of trying. And make sure that any complementary therapist you see knows about your cancer and treatments.
Some complementary therapies are available through hospices, GPs and hospitals. But if you want to find a therapist yourself, make sure they are properly qualified and belong to a professional body. You can get advice on finding a properly qualified therapist from the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.
For more information about different complementary therapies and important safety issues to think about when choosing a therapy, visit Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.