Coping with tiredness

Two men reading © Crown Copyright 2009

Sometimes tiredness can feel overwhelming

Tiredness and lack of energy are very common with many heart conditions. Sometimes this tiredness can feel overwhelming and leave you with little energy, or motivation, for everyday tasks.

Tired all the time?

Tiredness affects everyone differently. As well as a general lack of energy you may also:

  • Find it hard to concentrate or make decisions
  • Feel irritable and get upset easily
  • Have difficulty remembering things
  • Have interrupted sleep
  • Withdraw from family and friends

Learning ways of conserving your energy can be very helpful: this page gives you some useful tips.

Ladies in the garden

Give yourself time to do things

Save energy!

  • Use a towelling bathrobe to dry off after showering.
  • Let dishes drip-dry or invest in a dishwasher.
  • Sit for as many activities as possible, e.g. ironing, preparing / cooking food.
  • Use a trolley, or shopper, to gather things from around the house that you need to do something. This saves going back and forwards to get things you need.
  • Rest your arms on a surface, or pillows, while using your hands to do something, e.g. chopping vegetables.
  • Shop on the internet or from catalogues. This gives you the chance to choose what you want and get things delivered at a time that's convenient to you.
  • Avoid bending: use a 'grab' stick to pick up items from the floor or garden.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects.

Pace yourself!

  • Give yourself time to do things. A slow steady pace consumes less energy.
  • Alternate work / chores and rest by doing things in small stages.
  • Don't be tempted to overdo it on a good day as you will be overtired the next day. If you find yourself very tired one day think back to what you did the day before as you may have done too much. In this way you can learn to adjust what you can do without taking too much out of yourself.
  • Consider keeping a diary and keep a note of the times of the day when you are most tired. This can help you discover any patterns to your energy levels and you can plan to rest at these times.

Organise your time and space

  • Do most energy-consuming tasks at the time of day / week when you have most energy - but be flexible and plan rest periods.
  • Planning in advance will avoid having to rush.
  • Put frequently used items in drawers or shelves that are between waist / shoulder level.
  • Keep items in the area where they will be used, to avoid unnecessary fetching and carrying.

Get assistance

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  • It doesn't mean you are being dependent: it means you are using your energy to its best advantage.
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