How To Get Off The Roller Coaster
Updated: Nov 10
Post Stroke Fatigue is common for a lot of folks after they get home from the hospital/rehabilitation center and start trying to get back to their pre-stroke roles. Fatigue is real and it is not fully understood, but there are things that you can do to help manage fatigue after stroke One thing that can happen is that some people start to experience what I call the roller coaster. What I mean by that is that people have a concept of things they want to get done in a day. And, if there is a day that they feel really good, really energized, they may try to pack a whole bunch of things into that day. They may find by the end of that day or possibly the next day that they are worn out. So some people get on a process of feeling good, then trying to cram everything in one day. That day exhausts them and they have to lay off lots of activity. Then, next time they start to feel energized again they go back and repeat the process. That is the “Roller Coaster” of highs and lows with your energy. Being mindful that if fatigue is an issue for you is the first step. There are some things that you can do to be proactive to help manage the fatigue.
The first thing is to be gentle with yourself. This fatigue is real. It is happening to you and that is okay. Also recognize that there are things that you can do to start minimizing it.
One thing that you could do is think about all of the tasks that you'd like to get done in a day and rank them in order of importance. What's the most important thing for you to get done that day? The things below this tasks are things you would like to get done, but don’t have to get don. After you've ranked them in order of importance, look at what's going to be the most challenging for you either physically or mentally and choosing to put that one first to do. And, again, having that rest of that list being not as important. After you knock out that difficult physical or mental task try to get done a few more things. That way you can help manage the energy that you're consuming to get those tasks done.
You can start with fewer tasks than yu think you can do, and see how you feel the next day. That can tell you if you judged your endurance well. The next time you go to do several tasks, you could add one more if you feel that you are able.
You also could schedule in some rest breaks. A rest break is a meaningful pause from activities- mental or physical. Simply do something that you find restful: sitting and doing nothing, listening to some music, watching the birds out the window, anything that gives you a feeling of rest and recovery.
Also be sure that you take into account that there is mental (thinking) fatigue and physical fatigue (doing) fatigue and that the two actually have an impact on each other. For example if you are a person who gets fatigued after showering and getting ready in the morning that physical fatigue could make then engaging in an activity like managing the bills or balancing your checkbook more difficult. On the flip side of that, if you have to spend the morning doing a lot of thinking activities -getting online and managing your online bill payment something that is mentally taxing- and then you also have to go out and go to maybe a child school event in that afternoon. The mental exertion from the morning may cause more fatigue for that physical activity in the afternoon. Being aware and managing these tasks can help you avoid the “Roller Coaster”
Other things that help just people feel a little bit more energetic
-having a fitness routine a consistent fitness routine where your challenging your strength and your cardio respiratory system actually increases our energy levels if you haven't been doing an exercise program like that in the beginning first week or two it can make you feel a little more tired and then after that it has a very positive effect on increasing your energy levels which could help with your overall fatigue with your daily activities
-drinking water Our bodies function best when they are well hydrated. Being sure that you are getting enough fluids in your system actually can have a positive effect on your energy levels as well
If you are feeling the “Roller Coaster” of fatigue, choose one of these ideas and experiment with it. Give it a try it for a week and see how it works for you.
If you have a specific question about your situation send me an email and I'll answer it!