It's common to hear the phrase "time is money." Sure, time and money are both important currencies. However, if chronic pain and fatigue have taught us anything, it's that energy is the most precious currency. We need to be careful with how we spend it.
As an occupational therapist, I teach individuals with chronic conditions, including those chronic pain and fatigue, how to use energy conservation strategies. Energy conservation is a way of adapting the way you do daily tasks, so you use less energy. Think of it as a way to "work smarter, not harder." As a fibromyalgia warrior, I use energy conservation techniques to accomplish the things I need to get done without overexerting myself and causing a flare of symptoms.
Here are five energy conservation strategies you can try today to feel better tomorrow:
Keep things close. Go throughout your day and pay attention to what items you use daily. These are items that you will want to keep within easy reach. If you use your toaster every morning, leave it out on the counter. Instead of having your personal care items scattered throughout your bathroom, compile them into one bag. If you cook regularly, store pots and pans where you can get them without bending or reaching.
Make technology your friend. A few months ago, I finally gave in to getting a robot vacuum, and it was a great decision! Vacuuming has always been demanding on my body and with a dog that sheds A LOT, it was time. There are plenty of other devices that make life easier, such as a crockpot or Instant Pot for cooking meals or using Siri or Alexa to add items to your grocery list instead of tracking down a paper and pen.
Learn how to pace yourself. We have other posts about this topic, but because pacing is so important to avoid flares, we needed to talk about it again. Everyone has different thresholds of how much we can do before we flare. Download this guide to understand your threshold and begin working toward increasing how much you can do without flaring.
Sit when you can. I think we overlook how taxing it is on our bodies to stand in one position for an extended period. There are plenty of opportunities to sit throughout the day to save energy for other things. Some ideas include: getting dressed, showering/bathing (using a shower or bath chair), meal prepping/chopping, and folding laundry.
Delegate or use services. Grocery shopping is another exhausting task for me – the visual clutter is overstimulating to my already overstimulated brain! Because of this, my spouse has gladly taken on this task so I can utilize my energy elsewhere. People likely ask you how they can help, so take them up on their offers! If you don't have any friends or family that can help, spend an hour looking into services like grocery delivery/curbside pick-up or a cleaning company to do a deep clean of your home once a month.
Check It Out
We've created a free step-by-step guide on how to pace the things you've been avoiding (like exercising, getting together with friends, taking a long walk) without flaring!
Fibromyalgia is not a "one size fits all" diagnosis. What works for some doesn't work for others. The information provided is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Should you have any health-related questions, please consult your physician or other health care provider promptly.
Hannah is an occupational therapist, fellow fibromyalgia warrior, and co-founder of Fight Against Fibro. We're on a mission for a life with less stress and more energy.