Trust me, I know, we are all sick of being sick and tired of being tired and bored out of our minds with resting. I know!!! Energy is a precious commodity while going through chronic illness. With practice, we can learn how to reserve our energy for the important things, like the healing process. What about life? We can utilize what energy we have for the important things of life as well. As we learn how to prioritize, we use our energy more wisely and we heal faster.
How much sleep and resting does a person need? Your body has the answer. Listen to your body.
When you feel tired, REST.
I know this is a completely different mindset than what we are used to. We are used to doing life, pushing through everything. Going and blowing because there is fun to be had, people to see, things to be done, adventures to do.
Well, the reality is, we got ill. We have been forced into a different lifestyle, for the time being. We have a choice, fight it and get slowed down more or get in the groove of it and get through it faster. Time to lean into it.
Our physical and emotional energy is precious. Those with chronic illness know that loud and clear.
Here we are, in chronic illness, so how are we going to deal with it?
By paying attention to our bodies we can learn what works for us. One person may have trouble walking and that wears them out. Another may have trouble carrying on conversations. Another may get overwhelmed by having to make their own meals and they quickly get exhausted before getting a meal. We all have our things while being ill.
Most of us have crashed so hard that EVERYTHING wears us out. I remember the days I spent 24 hours in bed every day and it wore me out to THINK about turning over to get more comfortable. That was the time period that my pain was so intense that all I could accomplish in a day was enduring the wracking pain without losing my mind.
We all have our horror stories. These experiences can crush us or they can teach us. It taught me a ton about reserving my energy. I needed every ounce of it to survive the experience.
We learn about all the things that are not as important as they once were. Housework no longer can be kept up with like it used to. Yard work became obsolete for me. Running around with friends was not even a possibility. My focus narrowed down to the priorities simply to get through the day.
We quickly learn that every ounce of energy is important because it is so limited. Our physical bodies cannot do what they used to do, not even close. Emotionally the experience takes its toll and that also depletes our energy.
Once we accept that this is the state we are in, we realize that we have incredibly limited energy. It is time to learn how to prioritize our energy so that we can heal. Heck, just having enough energy to survive the day is the reality during part of this journey.
Prioritizing becomes easier as we accept our limitations.
- If we are homebound, that means friends and family will have to come to us instead of us going to them like we used to.
- If we can no longer stand long enough to do our own grocery shopping, we have to accept help or explore the possibilities the Internet has to offer.
- If we cannot stand to take a shower every day, we can take a bath on the other days.
It is just the way it is, for a while. If we keep fighting the reality we are currently in we are only wearing ourselves out which keeps us sick and stuck. That internal fight is using up our precious energy resources. Stop it!! Accept where you are at the moment, in time it will change.
Pick what is the very most important things to you.
- God is my top priority so I chose to give him my best most mornings when I have the most energy.
- Friends and family are top priorities for most people. Anyone who has stuck around through a chronic illness is most likely worthy of some energy.
- Food and water need to be prioritized. The better we eat and stay hydrated the more energy we have.
- Health / medical care in whatever form we chose has to take place at some level while we are chronically ill. It takes tremendous energy to get to those appointments. Chose wisely.
This may seem like a meager list to the average person. Give this list to a chronically ill person and it can seem overwhelming.
Make your own list of what you can do, with your limited energy. My list will look different than yours. There is no right or wrong list and it will change as you move through your health journey.
I personally do not choose to waste my energy on many doctors appointments. I have found the doctors who actually help me and understand the complexity and I stop there. Searching for more answers, more treatments, more expense is exhausting to me. That is a personal choice.
I do save up my energy for the health care appointments that I go to on a regular basis that actually benefit me. It takes energy to get there but when all is said and done, I have gained from the experience instead of been completely depleted from it. It took me a while to find my 4 providers that each play a significant role in my healing.
I chose to limit my exposure to people while I am ill. The response I have received has been so upsetting that it has hurt me instead of helped me. I chose to control the amount of negative energy that is brought into my space. I simply don’t put up with the garbage I used to so that it does not needlessly drain what little energy I have.
Food is incredibly important for our healing so I chose to spend a good part of my energy on making every meal from scratch. I don’t have the energy for anything fancy so I keep it all quite simple. But I get it done every single day. Nourishment through food and hydration gives me energy.
On and on the list goes. You will find your own way through this. Prioritize and limit what you do. Get to bed when you need to rest. Even if you are bored out of your mind, REST.
At some point you will get so bored you will get up and try again. Your body will tell you how much you can do and then LISTEN when you feel drained and rest some more.
Don’t expect others to understand, that will drain your energy. They won’t understand unless they have had chronic illness themselves. Since we do not wish this experience on others, give them a break when they don’t give you a break for not having the energy to do “normal” things.
Today’s Healthy Adventure
Literally, write down a list of your energy priorities. When you get sidetracked, look at your list and slow yourself down so you can heal faster.
As you conserve your energy, your stress is reduced, your inflammation has a chance at going down and you have a more conducive atmosphere for healing.
Maribeth Baxter, MBNC (Certified Mind-Body Nourishment Coach)
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