10 Ways I Prepare for a High Pain and Low Energy Day
Chronic pain often leaves me fatigued and zapped of energy after a day at work, social engagements, or doctor’s appointments. Because of this constant battle, I have had to adapt my everyday life to conserve energy and fight the fatigue that is constantly wrestling with my chronic pain to take away more of my life. Below is my list of go-to things that help me conserve energy during the week and allow me to be as prepared as I can be for a high pain and low energy day.
1. Buy in bulk.
I know many singles or couples shy away from buying in bulk because they simply dont need that much food or supplies, but for those who are chronically ill, two trips to the store can be draining and zap your energy for the entire day. Because of this, I make a point to visit our local club store at least once a month to stock up on proteins, frozen fruits and veggies, and quick frozen meals. When I buy meat in bulk, I make sure to go home and freeze it in smaller quantities so I can quickly thaw whatever I am in the mood for. You would be surprised how many things you can save as quick go-tos on a bad day. I freeze anything from meat, cheese, bread, and sauces – all of which keep me at home in my comfy clothes instead of braving the crowds at the store.
2. Pre-marinade/pre-chop food.
When I first started buying in bulk, I was so proud that I figured out this little life hack of stocking up and freezing meat for easy access and avoiding trips to the store. But, when it came time to thaw said meat, I was left still having to prepare it in someway. I decided to look into easy prep recipes that allow me to make large batches of marinades or sauces and freeze my chosen protein right in it. I also take the time to cut whatever protein before freezing to cut down on time when I go to use it. Then, all I have to do is thaw and dump in the crockpot or bake it in the oven. Some of my faves are fajita steak, rosemary garlic chicken, lemon rosemary pork, and marinara chicken for an easy chicken parmesan.
3. Meal prep.
When I first read up on meal prep, it seemed daunting and energy consuming. But, after taking some time to learn, I have it down. Coupled with buying in bulk and freezing things, making meals for the week is a breeze. I first started with only prepping my dinners for the week. After I got the hang of it, I started prepping my lunches, too, and eventually even added in breakfast! The key to prepping is being flexible about it. Sometimes I prep on Saturday, other times on Sunday, and sometimes I will break it up and do some one day and the rest the other day – depending on my energy level. In addition to being flexible with what day I prep, I am also flexible with how much I prep. Sometimes my energy only allows me to prep dinners for the week, and that’s OK. Any prep I can do will help me to conserve energy during the week, so I try to be kind to myself if I can’t prep three meals for six days.
4. The PTA.
My nana is a wonderful woman full of witty insights and useful life hacks. At nearly 90 years old, one of my favorite things she always taught me was the secret of the “PTA.” For the sake of audience, we will say the “P” stands for “pits” – but I am sure you can imagine what a quick witted nana would actually say. Whenever I didn’t want to take a bath growing up, she always told me that I at least had to take a “PTA,” or a “pits, tits, and a**,” meaning you just had to wash those parts. I have carried this lesson into my adult life and it is especially useful for days when my energy is in the red. You just hop in, wash your “PTA” and you’re out in two minutes. For men, feel free to substitute the “T” with a “B,” and take a “PBA.” (I’ll let figure out the meaning of that one.)
5. Dry shampoo.
There are nights when taking a full shower just isn’t an option, so you opt for a “PTA.” I am sure many of you know that feeling. The dread of getting in the shower and expending your last remaining spoons on washing up. I know that to many that might sound gross, but, it is completely true. A shower requires me to wash my hair and dry it, and that is a task. When my energy fails me, I always have a bottle of dry shampoo ready to go for the morning so I can still look semi-put together at work, even though I am exhausted and hurting.
6. Pack your lunch and/or bag the night before.
I make an effort to pack everything in my work bag and lunch bag the night before. I pop my lunch bag in the fridge and then just throw in my ice pack in the morning and I am good to go!
7. Pick out clothes the night before.
I always set out my clothes the night before, if not multiple nights before. I have a number of hooks on the back of my door allowing me to hang out outfits for five days. If I have enough energy on Sunday, I will pick out all of my outfits for the week and hang them up so all I have to do is slip them on and I am out the door, saving me a few minutes and spoons every morning that I would have spent picking out a matching outfit.
I know my energy is lowest in the evening, so I will make sure to schedule the most demanding tasks in the late morning and early afternoon when my energy is highest. I also try not to schedule two demanding activities in the same day so I can conserve energy for the following day instead of spending that time recouping from over doing it.
9. Take breaks.
Throughout my day I often feel myself getting more tired and spending more spoons than I have. It isnt uncommon for me to take 10-15 minutes at work to lie down on my yoga mat and just give myself a rest. You would be surprised what 15 minutes of quiet and laying down can do for fatigue. It might only buy me another hour or two, but, we all know how precious that time is.
10. Knowing when to call it quits.
Anyone dealing with a chronic illness knows they have limits. When I feel I am reaching mine, I am no longer scared to call it a day. Sometimes that means leaving engagements early or chilling on the couch when you get home from work. I have learned to try and focus on the things I accomplished during the day and allow my body to rest so I can hopefully have a productive day tomorrow. It is difficult to know your limits and sometimes even more difficult to bow out of things, but, for the sake of my energy, it is necessary.
With a little bit of planning ahead and some extra work when I do have the spoons available, I am slowly shaping my strategy to fight the fatigue that plagues me. It might only be a few minutes or an hour a day that I save by doing things ahead of time, but, sometimes those few minutes make the difference between being functional tomorrow and being trapped in bed, so I take advantage of them when I can.
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