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Tips for Conserving Your Energy

Cancer and cancer therapy can be accompanied by feelings of extreme fatigue. To help you during the times you feel tired, these easy tips help conserve the energy you do have.

In addition, the UCSF Cancer Resource Center hosts monthly workshops on managing cancer-related fatigue. For more information, contact the center at (415) 885-3693.

Activities of Daily Living

  • Plan ahead to avoid rushing.
  • Sit down to bathe and dry off. Wear a terry robe instead of drying off.
  • Use a shower/bath organizer to decrease leaning and reaching.
  • Use extension handles on sponges and brushes.
  • Install grab rails in the bathroom or use an elevated toilet seat.
  • Lay out clothes and toiletries before dressing.
  • Minimize leaning over to put on clothes and shoes. Bring your foot to your knee to apply socks and shoes. Fasten bra in front then turn to back.
  • Modify your home to maximize efficient energy use. For example, place chairs strategically to allow for rest stops — for instance, along a long hallway.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and low-heeled, slip on shoes. Wear button front shirts rather than pullovers.

Housekeeping

  • Schedule household tasks throughout the week.
  • Do housework sitting down when possible. Use long-handled dusters, dust mops, etc. Use a wheeled cart or carpenter's apron to carry supplies.
  • Delegate heavy housework, shopping, laundry and child care when possible.
  • Drag or slide objects rather than lifting. If you do need to lift an object, use your leg muscles rather than your back muscles.
  • Sit when ironing and take rest periods.
  • Stop working before becoming overly tired.

Shopping

  • Organize list by aisle.
  • Use a grocery cart for support.
  • Shop at less busy times.
  • Ask for help in getting to the car.
  • Buy clothes that don't require ironing.

Meal Preparation

  • Use convenience and easy-to-prepare foods.
  • Use small appliances that take less effort to use.
  • Arrange the preparation environment for easy access to frequently used items.
  • Prepare meals sitting down.
  • Soak dishes instead of scrubbing and let dishes air dry.
  • Prepare double portions and freeze half.
  • Call the Cancer Resource Center at (415) 885-3693 for information on organizations that deliver prepared meals to your door free of charge, such as Project Open Hand or Meals on Wheels.

Child Care

  • Plan activities that can be done sitting down, such as drawing pictures, playing games, reading, and computer games.
  • Encourage children to climb up onto your lap or into the highchair instead of being lifted.
  • Make a game of the household chores so that children will want to help.
  • Delegate child care when possible.

Workplace

  • Plan workload to take advantage of peak energy times. Alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding tasks.
  • Arrange work environment for easy access to commonly used equipment and supplies.

Leisure

  • Do activities with a companion.
  • Select activities that match your energy level.
  • Balance activity and rest. Don't get over-tired.

Adapted from Suggested Strategies for Energy Conservation by the Oncology Nursing Society 2001

More Information:

For additional information or resources, please visit:

Cancer Resource Center
1600 Divisadero St., First Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 885-3693

Also, please see our patient education article, Delegation to Help With Fatigue.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.