When you are ill or recovering from an illness, you are likely to have less energy and feel tired. A simple task, such as putting on your shoes, can feel like hard work. This guide will help you to find ways to conserve your energy as you go about your daily tasks. By making these small changes you’ll have more energy throughout the day.
The 3 Ps principle (Pace, Plan and Prioritise) Learning to pace, plan and prioritise your daily activities will help you to save energy.
Pacing yourself will help you have enough energy to complete an activity. You’ll recover faster if you work on a task until you are tired rather than exhausted. The alternative, doing something until you’re exhausted, or going for the big push, means that you’ll need longer to recover.
- Break activities up into smaller tasks and spread them throughout the day.
- Build rests into your activities, it’s key to recharging your energy.
- Plan 30– 40 minutes of rest breaks between activities.
- Sit and rest wherever possible.
Look at the activities you normally do on a daily and weekly basis, and develop a plan for how you can spread these activities out. If certain activities make you breathless or fatigued, rather than do them in one go, plan ahead to do them throughout the day. Change the time of an activity: instead of having a bath or shower in the morning when you are busy, have one in the evening. Do weekly activities such as gardening, laundry and food shopping on different days, with rest days in between.
- Collect all the items you need before you start a task.
- Specially adapted equipment is likely to make tasks easier. If you have an occupational therapist, ask them for further advice and support.
- You may get more done when family or friends are visiting and can help you.
Some daily activities are necessary, but others aren’t. Ask yourself the following questions to find out which of yours are necessary:
- What do I need to do today? What do I want to do today?
- Wat can be put off until another day?
- What can I ask someone else to do for me?
Top energy conserving tips:
- Don’t hold your breath during any task.
- Try to avoid pulling, lifting, bending, reaching and twisting where possible.
- Push or slide items as much as possible, rather than lifting them.
- Bend with your knees rather than from your waist
For more information, you can dowload a copy of the guide found on this page.
The guide is produced by the Critical Care Forum, Royal College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section – Trauma and Musculoskeletal Health in partnership with the Yorkshire Fatigue Clinic. It is published by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and is endorsed by the Intensive Care Society.