Managing Fatigue

Managing Fatigue

Check in with yourself!

Cancer fatigue can affect people physically, emotionally, and mentally. Here you can check in with yourself and we’ll give you some helpful tips and ideas that may help.

  • Choose activities that you will enjoy and fit in your daily life.7
  • Often, people living with cancer fatigue can end up spending their energy on things they think they ‘should’ or ‘have to’ do. But prioritising things you enjoy can help recharge your energy and help you feel better.
  • If you want help prioritising what to do, check out our My Life My Priorities for people with cancer fatigue.
  • Keeping track of your actions using the Health Tracker can help you stay motivated and boost your energy. Download the app here.

Always discuss with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise or activity.

Tired woman yawning
I have trouble sleeping
Man in a room staring into the distance
I find it hard to get through the day
Woman reading and massaging her temple
I feel overwhelmed and stressed
Man in pain massaging his neck
I experience continuous pain

Planning a good night’s sleep

You may have trouble getting to sleep, wake up very early or during the night. Sleepless nights can leave you feeling drained, anxious and dazed. Getting too much sleep is not helpful either. There are ways to help you sleep better. Better sleep means more energy. If you often can't sleep, it is also important to speak to your doctor. Here are ideas to sleep better.

  • Keep regular sleep hours:  go to bed at roughly the same time each night, even at the weekends. This sends the message to your mind and body that it is time to rest. Also, get up at the same time every morning, even after a bad night.11
  • Bedtime routine: have a hot shower or a warm bath with relaxing bath salts, listen to quiet music, read a book. Limit the amount of screen time an hour before bed.19
  • Create a cosy, peaceful environment: adjust the temperature, use ear plugs to block out noise, change your pillow, turn your phone on silent and move it away from your bed. You can also use an eye cover to block out light.12,19
  • Keep a pen and paper next to your bed: if you lie in bed thinking about worries and frustration, write them down so that you can make a plan for dealing with them the next day. Remember, it’s better not to look at screens during the night!19
  • Limit napping during the day: naps can be a useful way to boost energy, but sometimes they can throw off night-time sleep. Commit to keeping naps short at 10 to 20 minutes. You can take as many naps as you need throughout the day, but it is usually better to not nap too close to bedtime.13

Consider consulting your Healthcare Professional if you are worried about your sleep.

Mindfulness and relaxation

  • Mindfulness can help you unwind, quieten a busy mind and contribute to your wellbeing. Instead of trying to fall asleep, it’s often easier to simply relax. Meditation, mindfulness, paced breathing, and other relaxation techniques can put you in the right mindset for bed.10,12

Sleep apps and websites:

Here is a list of useful apps and websites to track your sleep and provide you with more information on sleep:

How to get to sleep - NHS (

Connect your smart phone health app data to track sleep with the ByYourSide app health tracker. Download the app HERE

Physical activity

Low energy from cancer fatigue can affect you physically, emotionally and mentally.  When you feel exhausted even everyday tasks can be hard work.

Doing exercise may seem overwhelming. But staying active can help boost your energy levels. It’s important that you listen to your body and take it at your own pace. Easy at first and increase activity slowly over many days.

You should always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise. Certain cancers and treatments mean you need to be extra careful, such as those affecting your bones, your immune system, or your sensations (e.g. loss of sensation or pins and needles). After surgery, you should only do exercises recommended by your doctor. Here are some activities that have been found to help other people affected by cancer fatigue.7,14

  • Aerobic exercise means “with oxygen.” During aerobic exercise, your breathing and heart rate increase. This supports your heart and circulatory system and can help improve cancer fatigue.7,14,15 You may want to do some gentle walking, cycling or dancing.
  • Tai-Chi combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements. Originally developed as a martial art in 13th-century China, Tai-Chi is practised around the world. Some people with cancer find that Tai-Chi helps with fatigue.7 You can search online for Tai-Chi classes or find one at Tai Chi Union for Great Britain.
  • Strength training involves lifting a weight. But you can use your own body weight. Standing up from a chair, climbing stairs and carrying bags all count! Strength training improves muscle strength and bone density and can boost energy, both during and after cancer treatment.7,15,16 You can find other simple exercises here.

Find an activity you enjoy to help you recharge your energy

Always discuss with your Healthcare Professional before starting a new exercise or activity.

Relaxation exercises


Nutrition is vital for your concentration, mood, and energy levels. If you don’t have much appetite, try smaller, more frequent meals (five or six times a day) instead of three larger ones. Check out our nutrition section. It’s also important to stay hydrated - having a refillable water bottle can help you keep track of how much fluid you are drinking.


Cancer fatigue is invisible, it can be difficult to explain to others how intense fatigue affect you and your daily life.4  It's understandable that this can make you feel stressed or upset. However, some activities can help you to cope. 

You’ve probably heard of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness of your experience without judgment. Mindfulness can help you understand yourself better, positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.9

Here is an easy mindful breathing exercise video from Every Mind Matters on YouTube to get you started.

Mindfulness can have a positive effect on people’s experience with cancer fatigue, improving anxiety, relationships, and enjoyment of life.10,15

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with your Healthcare Professional

Talk to your loved ones

Sometimes it can be hard to explain to your friends and family how you feel and how intense cancer fatigue is.8 But the main tip is that it’s good to talk. It can be tempting to hide or leave the conversation for later, but no-one likes to see someone they love in pain, so even expressing that you can talk about things, admit that, will help people around you to respect and understand you. Let them know what is going on.15

Cancer and it’s treatment can affect lives in many ways. In this link you can find information about dealing with personal relationships, whether that be your spouse, partner, family or friends.

Stay organised & ask for help

In the ByYourSide™ app you can access the section ‘Support’ to connect with your support network and ask for help with your tasks and medical appointments. Prioritise the main tasks and those that make you happy.

Click HERE to read an article on “How to ask for help and accept it”.


You may experience cancer fatigue together with physical pain. This was described as if “the body cannot heal, nor can it function well”.8 Studies show a relationship between pain and higher levels of fatigue.18 But activities like relaxation and mindfulness can be helpful.7 Dealing with pain can help you cope with the cancer fatigue.

Relaxation exercises like gentle yoga stretches can help relax your body and ease pain. It is important to speak with your doctor if you experience pain. Try this introduction to yoga which includes a range of sequences suitable for all levels.

Visit the British Wheel of Yoga website to find a yoga class near you.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with your Healthcare Professional.

Please consider consulting your Healthcare Professional if you are worried about the continuous pain you are experiencing.


Mindfulness can help people dealing with pain as it helps to ease difficult thoughts and relaxes the body.10,15 In this link you can find more information on mindfulness. You can also click HERE to access an easy mindful breathing exercise video from Every Mind Matters on YouTube.

PP-ONC-GBR-2700 /  August 2022