One of the biggest lessons about life with chronic illness I’ve learned is how to budget my energy. For myself and a lot of people living with chronic illness our bodies experiences fatigue and energy differently. I can’t speak for other people but I will share what this has looked like for me.
I’ve learned to think of energy budgeting as a series of deposits and withdrawals. Things that take energy are withdrawals and the things that fill you with energy are deposits. When living with a chronic illness there are types of activities that take a lot of energy for us that the average person does not consider taking any energy. This could be something as simple as a shower, getting ready for the day, driving to work, or cooking a meal. Deposits of energy are things that give us energy this could be taking a nap, taking rest breaks, or pacing ourselves when doing a difficult activity.
For me personally I am evaluating my energy levels throughout the day. There are days where I start the day at a yellow and have to be careful with how much I push myself that day. There have also been days when my day started out and I was completely exhausted and unable to go to work or do my normal life activities. Then there have been days when I start out with a lot of energy on one of the greens. But have had to be careful to not take too much advantage of the unexpected energy and deplete what I have.
The most important part of evaluating your energy is to simply notice. Notice what your body is telling you it needs. If you notice you are very tired is it possible to make a deposit by taking a small break or a nap? It’s even good to journal about patterns you’ve noticed in the week or month about things that have been draining or adding to your energy. Below are some helpful tips of what helps me budget my energy:
- Develop routines that support your energy. This could be going to bed and waking up at certain times. Eating foods that give you energy or doing light exercise to stimulate your energy.
- Be willing to say ‘no’. There have been times when there were fun activities going on with my family or friends and I’ve had to learn to be able to say ‘no’ when I didn’t have enough energy to go. There are activities that can be more taxing then others and it’s important to know your limits and when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes’.
- Letting others help you. This is one of the hardest for me. There are times I don’t have the energy to keep up and need help! It’s okay to ask for and receive help from others. Sometimes it makes a world of difference!