How to manage fatigue and other long-COVID symptoms

 May 29, 2024 | 4 Min Read

Table of Contents

For most people, Covid-19 is a brief and mild disease, but for others, they are left struggling with symptoms including crippling fatigue, brain fog, muscle aches and breathlessness that can last weeks, months, or even years.

Fatigue is the most common symptom of long-COVID, and it’s not just feeling a little tired. Long-COVID fatigue is different from usual tiredness because it is not relieved by sleep and or resting. Simple everyday activities feel exhausting, such as taking a shower, getting dressed in the morning, or going for a short walk. You can experience physical, mental and emotional fatigue, or any combination of the three. 

Symptoms of long-COVID fatigue can include:

  • Constant tiredness
  • Lacking energy or feeling burned out
  • Breathlessness
  • Brain fog
  • Body aches and soreness
  • Inability to focus
  • Reduced appetite
  • Feelings of weakness

Although there is no cure for long-COVID fatigue, there are steps you can take to help manage your symptoms:

It’s important to pace yourself and conserve your energy if you are experiencing long-COVID fatigue. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can't. This means working out what activities and tasks you can manage without exhausting yourself, and slowly increasing your activity level from there. 
Sleep is vital in recovering from COVID-19 fatigue. It’s important to follow good sleep hygiene such as going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, keeping your bedroom dark and cool, avoiding electronic devices at least one hour before bed, and carving out time to unwind before you close your eyes.
Taking a nap when you feel tired during the day is important. But try not to sleep too much, as this will disrupt your sleep pattern at night, making you feel even more fatigued.  
It may make you feel more tired at first, but regular exercise can actually help boost your energy levels. But it’s important not to push yourself too hard. Start slowly and build up intensity and frequency gradually. Even a short walk can help or try gentle exercises like Pilates, yoga, or swimming. A physiotherapist can design an exercise program specific to you, to help you gradually improve your activity levels, without making your fatigue or other symptoms worse. 
Try relation exercises, like mindful meditation, deep breathing, aromatherapy, tai chi, or yoga. These can help to reduce stress and fatigue symptoms. 
The food you eat can have an effect on both your mood and your energy levels. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet rich in fruit and vegetables, fish, nuts, beans and cottage cheese, and avoid unhealthy fats (like fried foods), processed foods, and sugar. If you’re too fatigued to shop and prepare your own meals, ask a friend or family member to help, order your groceries online, or subscribe to a meal kit delivery service. 
Drinking water throughout the day will help your body heal. Aim for about eight glasses of water every day.
And finally, if your fatigue is getting worse rather than better, you should consult with your doctor, who will help you create a tailored plan for monitoring and managing any ongoing symptoms. 
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