Fatigue and Breathlessness Management Course

What is fatigue and breathlessness?

Fatigue is the feeling of extreme tiredness or exhaustion all or most of the time. It can feel overwhelming and unrelenting and it is often not improved by rest. Breathlessness (sometimes called dyspnoea) is difficult, laboured and uncomfortable breathing. It can be both frightening and overwhelming and may be caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors.

Common features

For some people, the symptoms are very mild and do not interfere much with daily life. For others it can be very disruptive. If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, you will benefit from attending this course.

  • General tiredness and a feeling of having no energy
  • Breathlessness after only minimal exertion
  • Even the smallest chore feels like an enormous challenge
  • Difficulty remembering or making decisions
  • Irritability with family and friends
  • Feelings of panic with shortness of breath
  • Problems with sleep

About the programme

At St Peter's Hospice, we run a five-week course to enable you to manage your fatigue and breathlessness more effectively and regain a sense of control.

We will help you to identify realistic, meaningful goals and find ways of achieving them.

It is important to find a balance between activity and rest. Each week we will focus on a different area of your life such as energy levels, exercise, nutrition, sleep, breathing control and relaxation.

The sessions last approximately two hours, and will consist of discussion time and gentle group exercise and relaxation.

On the final week you are invited to bring along your partners/carers to join in. Small homework tasks will be set each week which will build on your progress. Occupational therapists, physiotherapists and nursing staff will be on hand to assist you.

Programme outline

Week one: introduction to the aims of the course, how fatigue affects you, setting goals, introduction to exercise and relaxation

Week two: benefits of exercise, practical session of exercise, relaxation and homework

Week three: energy conservation, prioritizing and planning tasks, exercise, relaxation and homework

Week four: understanding breathlessness, exercise, relaxation, reviewing goals and homework

Week five: appetite advice, information for carers, the next step, exercise and relaxation

What previous patients have said

“The course has been invaluable and I would recommend it to anybody”

“Useful to be given tips on planning ahead and how moderating activity helps cope with fatigue”

“It is unusual to treat fatigue in such a way; it has been really helpful”

“Nice to know there are things I can do to help myself”

“I know that it does make a difference when I do the exercises - I feel I can do more around the house”

“Found it beneficial to talk to others in a similar situation”

Need to know more?

Please talk to your GP or health professional and discuss a referral to the group.


Fatigue and Breathlessness Management information for patients leaflet