Fatigue is a common symptom that lingers following a brain injury. For some it is occasional days where they don’t feel up to snuff, while for others it is an ongoing struggle to attend to the tasks of daily life. Ignoring it doesn’t help, only causing other symptoms to be amplified. Sometimes this will lessen over time, but when it lingers, what should you do?
A number of strategies can be implemented that may help minimize these concerns. Some of these strategies are difficult to implement 100% of the time, but when a steady long term routine is developed, benefits are often felt.
1) Keep a normal sleep schedule. Get up and go to bed at the same time each day. Sometimes you might find you have a little extra energy or want to push your limits, but chances are this will cause increased tiredness in the days ahead.
2) Know your limits! Activities that require a great degree of focus and concentration, or physical exertion beyond your abilities will tire you out. When you do need to be focused, try to schedule these activities at the beginning of the day, or the time you find you are most alert.
3) Exercise. At least a little every day. Not only will this release neurochemicals which promote wakefulness, this can also have beneficial effects on mood and overall recovery. It doesn’t have to involve a trip to the gym, and anything is better than nothing. Go for a walk, chase your kids around the park, do some aerobics on TV, or join in a team sport.
4) Take naps. If there is a low point in your day where you can’t go on, respect that. Give yourself time for a nap – but make it time limited. For some, all they may need is 20 minutes. Others might need as much as 2 hours. Be aware that sleeping too much during the day may impact your ability to get to sleep at night, so don’t overdo it.
5) Talk to your doctor. If fighting fatigue is an ongoing issue, make sure your doctor knows about it. It can sometimes be a sign of other health issues not directly related to an ABI, and sometimes prescription medications can help. Don’t just assume there’s nothing else that can be done.
6) Find happiness. When we’re feeling down, as often happens when adjusting to the challenges of a brain injury, it can lead to a loss of energy and motivation. Make sure you make time for things that you enjoy in your life, even if it is difficult at first. It may help to talk to someone about your feelings too, either a loved one or a professional such as a counsellor.
This isn’t the end of the list. I’m sure many of you have your own tips and techniques that work. Why not leave a comment and share them?