As I mentioned in the beginning its not only
physical fatigue that patients feel, a big part is dealing with mental fatigue. So what
are some ways to increase your mental energy and cope with negative feelings?
One of the key things is choosing activities that you love, that brings you joy, that brings
you meaning, that gives you the feeling of being away from your problems. Think back
to the last time you did something you really loved. You probably forgot about pain, you
probably forgot about being tired, you probably were just focused on that activity and you
had a feeling of enjoyment. During cancer treatment you may have had to
put fun and enjoyable activities to the back of your mind because you had to focus on getting
through your treatment. As you begin to recover in your journey, you should start to think
about re-engaging in those activities that you love or explore new once.
Find time in your day to do something that makes you happy and that will also help you
regain and restore your mental energy. There is research that suggests that spending time
with nature can help restore your attention span. So next time you go for a walk, get
outside. If you are by the water listen or watch the water and waves. Maybe you have
a beautiful garden, take the time to smell the flowers. If you have pets, spend time
with them. By doing these things, you may be helping restore your attention span and
relieve mental fatigue. So spend time in nature and really smell the roses.
For those with concerns about brain fog, please check out “What you can do about Brain Fog”
class. Check the Patient and Survivorship Calendar for class times.
Other techniques that may help you restore your energy or help you cope with general
anxiety is trying out some relaxation techniques. These can include deep breathing, progressive
muscular relaxation where you gradually tense up muscles in your body and then completely
relax them, and guided imagery or visualization where you learn to use the power of our imagination
to create a relaxing place in nature whether it is a beach, walking through the mountain
or favorite garden. These techniques do take practice so if you
are new to them, have patience and give them a chance. There are relaxation CDs in the
Patient and Family Library that you can borrow and try out at home.
At Princess Margaret, we also have a drop in relaxation class every Wednesday from 1:00
pm to 1:45 pm in the Pencer Centre on the 18th floor that you can take part without
a need to register. One to one relaxation training is also available
through the hospital’s Survivorship Program as well as through the Psychosocial Oncology
department. You’ll also find relaxation groups in the
community such as at Gilda’s club or Wellspring as well.