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Feeling Tired After Chemo? Learning How to Manage Chemo Fatigue

Checkout our chemo fatigue tips to help you nurture your mind, body, and spirit post-chemo

If you're feeling tired after chemo or other cancer treatment, please know that you're not alone.

These intensive treatments take a toll on our bodies. And it’s only natural that after undergoing them, we'll feel tired.

Learning to manage chemo fatigue can be tricky. It can trickle down into all parts of our being, including our mind, body, and spirit.

It’s critical we learn to nurture these different parts of our being. When we strengthen these aspects of ourselves, we’re helping improve the quality of our lives post chemotherapy.

If you want help coping with feeling tired after chemo, then we have you covered. We’ve broken down how to focus on the 3 core areas of your being (mind, body, and spirit).

Here are some tips on how to combat chemo fatigue to improve each of these areas of your life:

Tips on Managing the Mind and Fighting Chemo Fatigue

Chemo brain is real.

When you undergo cancer treatment, it affects many parts of your mind. And if you feel like you’re the only one going through this, you’re not alone.

Chemo impacts your attention span, memory, and cognitive processing speed. Many people also note that it's harder to multitask post-chemo. These effects can generally last 9-12 months post-chemo, but it varies from person to person.

Image captured from @Flattieandfattie on Instagram.

It could be that you find yourself out to run errands, but you forget to do half the things on your to-do list. This type of chemo brain largely resembles brain fog.

The good news is: chemo brain is usually not permanent. We’ve come up with some ways for you to help manage the side effects of chemo brain.

1. Occupational Therapy for Chemo Brain

Let your physician know the symptoms you're feeling, and they can refer you to a therapist. Occupational therapy for the chemo brain exists.

It's much like physical therapy, except that it focuses on mental exercises. These mental exercises focus on strengthening your mind rather than other parts of the body.

These sessions usually last anywhere from 4-12 weeks. Your occupational therapist may ask you to bring in everyday projects. This includes things such as schoolwork.

The occupational therapist will then tailor the treatment plan to your specific needs. Patients often find themselves walking away with tools they can use in their daily lives.

2. Play Brain Games

We know this one sounds surprising, but brain games are a great exercise for your mind. Oftentimes, they're more effective than medications when it comes to treating chemo brain.

Websites such as BrainHQ focus on brain fitness. They train your brain to be in a less turbulent state. Regularly playing brain games can help you manage the mental impacts of chemo brain.

Tips on Managing the Body And Fighting Chemo Fatigue

Chemo fatigue takes a huge toll on our bodies. The sad reality is, in many ways our bodies aren't the same. But, learning to manage the changes to your body can be helpful.

1. Managing weight gain or loss

A common side effect of chemo, especially for breast cancer patients, is gaining or losing weight. Oftentimes, the drug used to treat breast cancer causes muscle loss, and fat gain.

It can be difficult to get the weight off, even after treatment. Working with a nutritionist and trainer that specializes in post-chemo routines, can be beneficial.

These professionals can assist you in developing routines that work with your lifestyle.

2. Managing Feeling Cold After Chemo - Cold Dysesthesia

After chemo, and other cancer surgeries, many people find themselves always feeling cold. This side effect is called Cold Dysesthesia. This is not a regular sensitivity to cold, but rather it can be quite painful.

The cold sensitivity can develop during or after chemo/surgery. The sensitivity occurs when drinking cold food or beverages. It also occurs when exposed to cold temperatures.

When going outside to cold temperatures, you could put on a few extra layers. But if bulky layers aren't your thing, Kristen Carbone, founder of Brilliantly, created a product with you in mind.

Kristen went through a preventative mastectomy herself. She was sick of feeling cold after her mastectomy, so she created Brilliantly Warm. Brilliantly Warm is a product designed for women to easily slip into any bra, for a discreet way of staying warm. It's here to help you feel cozy, without having to wear bulky layers. Order yours today!

Tips on Managing the Spirit And Fighting Chemo Fatigue

It often goes overlooked, but chemo fatigue can hit the spirit hard. It is important to nurture your spirit in whichever way feeds your soul.

Maybe you turn to religion and faith, or maybe a heightened sense of self awareness. Whatever avenue feeds your spirit is what you should focus on.

Going through tough times is hard, but making sure you're there for yourself matters. Here are some actionable ways to manage your spirit, and help combat chemo fatigue:

1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation can be an effective way to reconnect with the soul, post chemo.

Meditation can easily be practiced wherever you are. It's all about focusing your attention on the current moment. It allows you to usher in curiosity and acceptance into your life.

Mindfulness will help make you aware of your thought patterns. It will also help you better handle the stressors that may come into your life.

The Calm app has great mindfulness meditations that you can practice.

2. Self Reflection

Undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatment is a big deal. It's important you give yourself time to reflect on how it has shaped who you are.

Never underestimate the power of writing out your thoughts. Simply writing your thoughts down on a piece of paper can help you reconnect with yourself.

Never underestimate the power of journaling. Even if it's as simple as writing down a short thought each day. Overtime, reflecting on how far you have come can heal your body in ways you did not know possible.

Overall, navigating chemo fatigue is a unique process. But with actionable and conscious steps, you can help navigate your body through it.

Be sure to checkout “Prioritizing Mental Health and Exercise During and After Cancer Treatment with Dr. Simran Malhotra” where we discuss more ways to prioritize health during and after chemo treatment.

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