COVID-19 & fatigue
Let’s run through the symptoms of post-COVID-19 fatigue, as well as how it can be managed
We all feel sleepy from time to time, especially after a few late nights or early mornings. But fatigue is much more than that. Fatigue is an overwhelming tiredness that isn’t helped by rest or sleep.
Fatigue is very common when you’re recovering from COVID-19 (coronavirus). For most people, it tends to fade after two or three weeks, however, for some, it can last months. It’s one of the main symptoms of Post-COVID Syndrome (Long COVID).
What are the symptoms of fatigue?
Symptoms of fatigue vary from person to person, but tend to include:
• Difficulty doing simple tasks (such as getting dressed or showering)
• Difficulty sleeping
• Difficulty remembering things
• Difficulty speaking or making decisions
• Feeling like you have no energy or strength
• Feeling breathless after light activity
• Feeling dizzy or light-headed
• Feeling more emotional than usual
• A lack of concentration
• A loss of sex drive
What causes post-COVID-19 fatigue?
There are lots of reasons you might feel fatigue when you’re recovering from coronavirus. It could be an ongoing reaction to the virus (even though the infection has got better), or it could be an effect of having been seriously ill.
For some people, fatigue can be made worse by low levels of physical activity, a disturbed daily routine, a poor sleeping pattern, or low mood, anxiety, and stress.
Tips on managing fatigue
There are a whole range of things you can do to help manage fatigue. You could:
Take it easy
Rather than cramming lots of chores and activities into one day, try to spread things out over the course of the week. This might help to avoid any ‘boom and bust’ behaviour – where you’re very active on a ‘good day’ and then feel exhausted the next.
Exercise is probably the last thing on your mind right now, but regular movement can actually make you feel less tired in the long run. Just remember to take your time and set small goals – a mix of being active and getting plenty of rest is best.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is always important, but especially when you’re experiencing fatigue. As well as staying hydrated, hitting your five a day can help to keep your energy levels up. More on that here!
Fatigue or no fatigue, most of us should be aiming to clock between seven and nine hours of sleep each and every night. Fatigue can feel much worse if your sleeping pattern is disrupted, so it’s a great idea to scrub up on how to get a good night’s kip.
If you’re worried about your sleep, we’d recommend speaking to your GP.
Make smart swaps
If your fatigue is making it difficult to complete simple tasks, try to think of areas where you could save a bit of energy.
For example, if you find that showering is too tiring, you could have a wash sitting by the sink. If heading to the supermarket (once your quarantine period is over) seems like mission impossible, try ordering your groceries online or asking a loved one to lend a helping hand.
Stress uses up a lot of energy, so trying relaxing activities could be a real game-changer. Whether you read, doodle or take a bath, finding time to unwind can help ease fatigue and encourage a better night’s sleep. Want to take it one step further? Check out our 101 on all-things-mindfulness.
If your fatigue is making it difficult to work effectively, you could talk to your employer about making some small changes. You could ask to have a parking spot near to where you work, ask to work from home sometimes, or ask to change your working hours.
You could also talk to your family and friends about the impact your fatigue is having. They may not understand how debilitating it is, but if you reach out, they may be willing to offer support.
When should I talk to my GP?
Although there are plenty of ways to help manage your fatigue, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. You should talk to your GP if:
• Your fatigue is getting worse rather than better
• After three months your fatigue hasn’t changed
• You’re worried
• You have other new symptoms
Information correct at time of publication (12.01am 14/01/2021)