Coping Strategies and the Importance of Finding Support
As few as two people can become a support group for each other, finding someone that understands your challenges can be very meaningful whether by phone, email or in person, don’t hesitate to reach out to others. There are many coping strategies to help you and your families through these difficult times.
Listening to someone else’s brain tumour story can be rewarding and inspiring.
Coping with Fatigue Can Be Exhausting, especially when the causes and effects of fatigue are either misunderstood or unknown, finding encouragement and understanding can be difficult. Positive self-care techniques can improve overall health and may reduce symptoms.
Use the following suggestions as a starting point, and develop your own plan which incorporates the techniques that work best for you.
1. Pay attention to your diet.
Some people plan 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day to meet their nutritional needs. Be sure to utilise all food groups. Maximise nutrients by eating fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colours.
Lean protein, complex carbohydrates and small amounts of healthy fats are all important to good nutrition.
2. Drink enough water.
Dehydration can increase symptoms of fatigue. Plan to drink water before or with every meal, and also throughout the day. Keep water handy and limit beverages with caffeine (coffee, tea, cola drinks, etc.) which are dehydrating.
Drinking enough water is important for many bodily functions.
3. Avoid inactivity.
Talk to your medical team about incorporating gentle exercise in your daily routine.
Walking, stretching, swimming or water exercise, Tai Chi, circuit training and other forms of activity can actually
improve fatigue for many people.
Find ways to keep on moving!
4. Get adequate sleep and rest.
While daytime naps can be helpful at times, limit them to under 30 minutes daily so they do not reduce nighttime sleepiness.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps your body develop a regular sleep routine.
Keep a quiet, calm, restful atmosphere in your bedroom. Lie down and rest when you feel tired.
5. Learn and apply energy conservation techniques.
One of the most important coping techniques is learning to conserve and manage a limited amount of energy.
Decide to do only those activities that are most meaningful or important. Use “free time” wisely. Be efficient and learn to pace yourself.
6. Avoid sensory overload.
Look for a quiet place to recover from over stimulation or avoid it entirely when possible. Limit time in front of a TV or computer screen. Be aware of sensory input from noise, light, movement, crowds and other sources.
If you cannot have a conversation with background noise (from radio, TV, other people talking), find a proactive solution such as changing location, muting the TV, or asking people to be quiet for a moment.
7. Recognise your energy level, adjust accordingly.
Listen to your body! Postpone demanding tasks when you are having difficulty with physical or cognitive symptoms of fatigue.
Rest and recharge yourself before you become completely exhausted. Find a place to sit when you are feeling unsteady.
Use handrails on steps. Move carefully and slowly when needed.
8. Identify your priorities, self awareness
Time is limited for everyone. Daily life can so easily become overwhelming.
Learn to focus on people and activities that are most meaningful and important to you. Make conscious choices when planning your schedule.
Let your daily activities and commitments reflect your values.
9. Surround yourself with positive people.
One of the most powerful positive influences can be simply spending time (or talking with) people who help you feel better about things.
Attitudes are contagious! Optimistic feelings tend to multiply. “Look for the good” whenever possible. Minimise negativity of all types.
10. Embrace your spiritual connection.
Spirituality can be a powerful part of health and healing. Connect with personal and family traditions, explore faith communities and
congregations, or celebrate the Universe in your own way.
Prayer and meditation can be comforting.
More Coping Strategies To Help.
11. Develop an attitude of gratitude!
Notice the positive things around you each day and learn to say “thank you” for whatever brings you joy.
Celebrate your blessings!
Keep a list of people, places and things that make you smile. Enjoy photos of loved ones or scenes that evoke happy memories.
Keep a journal and describe enjoyable experiences to recall later.
12. Learn to ask for help.
Asking friends and family to help (and being willing to accept their help) can free up energy to use for other tasks. Be as specific as possible when you make a request for help.
People who care will want to do something to make things easier for you. Imagine if the roles were reversed… how would you feel?
13. Allow yourself to say NO.
Especially if you have reduced energy and endurance, it’s important to minimise your “things to do” list.
Learn to say NO to any requests that you cannot – or do not want – to do. Set aside energy for healing and to cope with any unexpected demands.
14. Laugh, sing, smile, create, enjoy!
Making time for humour, music, creative arts, and other sources of pleasure each day may improve your quality of life.
Be sure to include activities where you “lose track of time” and can feel relaxed.
Use creative activities to recharge your batteries!
15. Use stress management and relaxation techniques.
Breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, visualisation and imagery can help reduce stress.
Use 5-minute stress breaks. Journal writing allows you to keep notes about your feelings and symptoms.
Over time, this too can become a tool to help manage fatigue. Reducing stress can also help improve overall health.
16. Acknowledge your fatigue related challenges.
Being honest about how fatigue affects your life can help you cope more effectively.
Use communication techniques. Be patient and gentle with yourself, especially when things are difficult.
Remember, “This too shall pass.”
If you are coping with the effects of brain tumour related fatigue, remember…
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Coping techniques, positive self-care and working closely with your healthcare team all can help improve your quality of life.