Fatigue has always been my worst and most challenging symptom. It’s the main issue that stops me from being able to live a somewhat normal life. My muscles fatigue easily and I need to be careful with regards to what I do in a day. For me, fatigue does not just result from physical exertion. Mental tasks that require concentration can be equally as draining.
Managing chronic fatigue + your free e-book
Today, I am going to share one of the strategies I use to manage my chronic fatigue. I hope you find it useful. If you stick around to the end of the post, you can sign up for my FREE e-book on managing chronic fatigue by balancing energy drainers with energy givers. This e-book goes into more detail than I can fit into this blog post so make sure you sign-up!
My energy budget
I have an energy budget and I need to ensure that I spend it wisely so that I can get through each day without going into debt. If I go into the red, post-exertion malaise (PEM) results.
Whilst this has become less severe than it was a few years ago (as my level of functioning has increased) it still remains a problem. And, while I have found strategies and products that help me to deal with PEM, it’s something I naturally want to avoid as much as I possibly can.
One useful strategy for managing chronic fatigue
Over the years I have learned a useful strategy for managing my energy. Through listening to my body, I have made myself aware of what literally zaps the energy out of me and conversely, what helps me to recharge (or at least stops me from heading into a crash).
I call these energy drainers and energy builders. I need to find a balance between the two to avoid PEM. It’s like an account book, but for energy.
Using my bullet journal
A huge help with this has been my bullet journal. I have been experimenting with an activity tracker to see exactly where my energy is going. In the activity tracker, I list my energy drainers and builders (the latter of which is essentially self-care activities) so that I can bring my awareness towards balancing my energy throughout the day.
Now, there are of course times when I decide to push myself out with my energy envelope for a special occasion etc. There’s no avoiding PEM in those circumstances. So this is more a normal day-to-day strategy.
My bullet journal also allows me to easily see when I need to do something that is energy draining. I can then ensure that I also plan lots of rest around those activities.
Identifying energy drainers & builders
My strategy has been to write my energy zappers and builders down and to rate them between -3 and +3. The idea behind the scale is that it gives you an idea of the activities you find most draining and challenging. And, conversely, it brings your awareness towards the ones that help you to recover the most. It doesn’t need to be exact and I understand that things can vary. It just to gives a rough idea.
Balancing the books
Each day, try to think of how you can add some energy builders into your day to help you cope better with the energy drainers. What can you do to help you to be in the positive or energy neutral by the end of each day?
This is, of course, is harder said than done and it’s not an exact science. Things change, symptoms flare and vary day-to-day and week-to-week. Chronic illness can be unpredictable. If you are severely affected by chronic fatigue, just getting through a normal day can send you way into the red (I have been there so I empathise). In this situation, it’s thinking about self-care and feeling as well as possible more than balancing the books.
A work in progress
For me, this is a complete work in progress and I don’t always manage to avoid PEM. But, it’s not about perfection or always getting it right (life doesn’t always go as planned after all). It’s simply a tool I use to bring my awareness towards how I am spending my energy. And, it ensures that I hold myself accountable and make sure I fit self-care into each day.
Get your free e-book to help you manage your energy
If you would like to learn more, I have created a free e-book for you to download. In it, I go into more detail about my strategy for managing energy. I’ve included examples of my energy drainers and builders, worksheets to help you identify your own and a printable activity tracker that will help you to see how you are spending your energy.
Sign-up to my email list to receive your free copy!
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