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Recognising Your Fatigue Triggers and Managing Them Daily

Fatigue can be debilitating, so understanding what triggers your fatigue personally is the starting point in managing it. Having spoken to many people in the brain injury community across the world, there are many common themes that trigger fatigue. In this blog, we will discuss these triggers and how you can manage them daily.


What can trigger fatigue?


Essentially, anything that requires your body or mind to work harder than usual can potentially be a fatigue trigger.


  • Mental overload: Pushing yourself too hard physically or mentally can drain your energy levels and lead to fatigue - E.g. excessive concentration in conversations and driving long distances.


  • Lack of Sleep: Sleep deprivation is a common trigger for fatigue as it can reduce your brain functionality and leave your brain feeling exhausted. When you are tired, it becomes harder to retain information, so your brain works harder to concentrate. We know what excessive concentration leads to…fatigue!


  • Stress and Emotional Exhaustion: Anything that causes stress will activate your defence mechanisms, which can drain your battery.


  • Noise: Loud noises can over-stimulate the senses and cause fatigue to kick in. E.g. Being in a busy environment, like a coffee shop, with multiple conversations, music in the background and those noisy coffee machines. Sometimes just one noise, like laughter, can be too much.


  • Nutritional Deficiencies: A balanced diet is essential for maintaining optimal energy levels.



How can I manage these fatigue triggers?


  • Physical and Mental Overexertion: It's important to pace yourself, take regular breaks, and listen to your body's signals. If you are driving for instance, make sure to leave more distance between the car in front of you to give yourself more reaction time if you need to brake to prevent an accident.


  • Lack of Sleep: Sleep helps the brain to reset itself, so establishing a regular sleep schedule is key. By creating a relaxing bedtime routine and ensuring a comfortable sleep environment, it can promote better sleep quality and reduce fatigue.


  • Stress and Emotional Exhaustion: Practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation.


  • Noise: Try to reduce the amount of stimulation around you by moving to a quieter area or turning the sounds down if you can, like the TV.


  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Ensure you're consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.



What is Mark’s experience with managing Fatigue?


Fatigue is something that affects me pretty much daily, but some days it can be mild, and some days it can wipe me out. It can also appear without warning or be triggered by stress.


For me, it is one of the biggest side effects of brain injury and, once I understood it, I found I was able to be more effective each day. However, there are some days when I simply have to stop.


A big key for me was attending the Community Brain Injury Group at Isebrook Hospital in Northamptonshire. Their Fatigue Management workshops taught a small group of us to recognise fatigue, understand it, respect it, and then manage it. I joked at the first session that it was the only time it was acceptable to yawn in a meeting room. 


The best advice I heard on the subject was...Rest on a good day as well as a bad one!


“By spacing out the day’s tasks and knowing the triggers to fatigue are key. I know that driving for anything longer than an hour is going to cause fatigue. Being around noisy people or a busy environment with lots of laughter, loud talking and over-stimulation is going to kick in fatigue. In fact, the more concentration that’s required, the more fatigue is going to start owning my life.” – Mark



Do you need support managing your fatigue?

 

If you or someone you know experiences fatigue, then please seek support through our various Brain or Shine resources, such as blogs, podcasts and webinars.


Listen to our podcast episode, where we discuss Mark’s experience with triggers and how to recognise them from both Mark's and Jules’s perspective. We delve into the triggers in more details, to help you identify and understand what your triggers may be.



If you would like to discuss your symptoms with us, or someone else who has been or is going through it, please join our Facebook community and ask away!