Managing Energy Levels During Daily Tasks with Chronic Pain and Illness

How do you get through a day?

I remember complaining about being tired before Adhesive Arachnoiditis happened to me.

I remember thinking how tired I was when I was teaching full time, going to graduate school full time, and planning my wedding.  I thought I knew tired.  I was wrong.

I feel that the "tiredness" you feel with a chronic illness is not really the right word.

Irrational and 


is a much better description or IUEV for short.

I'm Exhausted

When someone with a chronic illness tells you I'm tired and you say, "Man, I know that feeling. I'm exhausted."

No. You really aren't.

Yes, I would say that in general Americans are tired.

We are overworked and under compensated.  We have less vacation time compared to the world at large and have the irrational need to keep up with the Jones's.  We pretend everything is perfect when it's not and yes, that is exhausting.

The IUEV I'm talking about is quite different.

So next time your friend or family member tells you they know how you feel, tell them this:

"Have you ever had the fu?"


Now, you have the flu, but you still have to take care of everything you normally do during the day and you have no downtime to rest.

That's what it's like for chronic illness suffers every day.

I have the flu but it is lifelong and yet I"m still expected to carry on and function.

If you have ever felt the undeniable need to rest after you have gotten up, brushed your teeth, washed your face, and fixed your hair, you know what IUEV is like.

If taking a shower has ever exhausted you to the point where you have to rest for an hour to rekindle your energy, you might know what IUEV is like.

Welcome to chronic illness and hey, I'm not even mentioning the fact that all these things also hurt.  So you are doing everything with IUEV and pain.


Several weeks ago I talked about the 5 Side Effects of Chronic Pain and Illness No One Talks About. One of those is fatigue, let's talk about how to get through the day to maximize your time and not drain you.

Managing Energy Levels During Daily Tasks with Chronic Pain and Illness

1. Take Breaks and Often

I like to break my day into task blocks. To name a few, I have an AM Block, a Meal Prep Block, a Chores Block, etc.

In each block, I have written the things I want to accomplish that day in my Bullet Journal.

I'm always going to have more energy in the morning as compared to the afternoon.  Therefore, I have my workout part of my AM Block.

I typically follow The Miracle Morning because it does kick start my day, keeps me focused on my alternative medicine therapies, and reinforces the behaviors I want as habits. However, where I generally differ from most people doing TMM, I take a 30-60 minute break after and eat a slow breakfast so I can recoup the energy I expended doing all of my AM tasks.

I do this for all of my blocks of time.  Do a block, rest. Do another block, rest.

2. Move Your Body

By the time I've showered and exhausted myself gotten ready.  I have to take another break.  So this time I set my microwave kitchen timer (because I have to get up to turn it off) and I usually go over my to-do list in my Bujo.

I really think about my current energy level and what I want to achieve and complete in that framework.

When you are in your "up off the couch time" move your body.

Don't just stand in the kitchen chopping veggies...that is not moving, exhausting, but not moving.  Moving more increases your endurance, keeps blood and oxygen flowing, and stimulates the brain.  The more you sit the more tired you will become.

However, there is a fine line between being active and exhausting yourself out of all energy to be had.

You will have to discover that line for yourself.  I still don't have the right balance but I will eventually figure out what is the right amount of rest time and the right amount of movement time.

If I'm having a low energy day, I take breaks more often. For example, for every 60 minutes of sitting, I get up and set a 15-minute timer and try to get as many things done in 15 minutes that I can.

A good day, maybe I set a 30 or 45-minute timer. As long as the pain doesn't interrupt me I'm great.  If I start hurting its ice on the couch until my next "up off the couch time."

If it's a really good day I'll usually jump from task to task, but I will...
3. Change Venues

I like to move to a new room, or if it's a rough day just moving to a different couch or chair.

On nice days I take Fluffy Alarm Clock outside, although summer is rapidly approaching and we do not go outside in the summer in Texas.  That's just crazy talk!

Changing things up can refresh the mind.  It can bring new energy and life to your mind.  That's why it's good to change seats or rooms, heck, get outside!

4. Stay on Top of Your Water Game

The biggest way to keep your energy up is to make sure you are drinking the correct daily intake of water. Find out how much here. I really can feel the difference in my energy levels when I'm not drinking enough water.

I feel even more sluggish and get winded far more easily. So increase your water intake by trying this recipe here.  Not only is more water better for you, you also have to get up to relieve yourself so you are moving your body.  Double Win!

5. Cut Out Foods that are Energy Drains

I really recommend doing a Whole 30 and then slowly introducing foods one at a time over a period of several months to find out what specific foods cause you to feel lousy.

I know mine is grains.  I had an unintentional cheat day because I was caught unawares by food poisoning.  UGH!  I ended up eating chicken noodle soup and boy did that pasta make me 'hungover' the next day.

Pasta, bread, sugar, and beer will sap the lifeforce outta me faster than you can say Dracula.

You need to know what foods do this to you. Find out all the words for sugar here.

6. Be Consistent but Flexible

Be consistent with your daily habits because sometimes habit is the only thing that is going to get you through a #hellday.

I actually feel weird if I don't do my Miracle Morning routine.  It's my one stop shop for all things good for me and my disease.  Meditation, Exercise, Visualization, Affirmation, these are all amazing alternative medicine exercises anyone with a chronic illness should try and do.

So when I wake up feeling like it's going to be one of those days, I make myself the promise that all I have to do is my AM and TMM block.

I get those blocks done and I usually find that I'm ok to do more blocks that day (sometimes nothing will help me but that's another story).  Even if I don't do anything else, I feel good and accomplished getting the AM and TMM block done.

Maybe the chore block doesn't get done that day. Just be flexible and move your blocks around that week.  Ask a friend or loved one to help with something if it is a priority.

7. Change Up Your Game

When things feel stale, you need a change.  I started walking Fluffy Alarm Clock before my Miracle Morning block.  I needed a fresh air boost and blood and oxygen rush earlier in the morning.  Plus, when it's summer, he needs to go out before it's too hot.

The walk helps me loosen things up.  Then I come back home for meditation and yoga. After, I finish the rest of my Life S.A.V.E.R.S.

When the sun actually starts coming up earlier than 7:00 I might move my TMM outside...remember change venue!

Maybe you need to switch laundry day or prep dinner when you make lunch.  Try shifting your blocks around or moving the blocks to a different venue to freshen it up.

Don't forget to take breaks and set a timer!! We will delve further into how to do time bullet journal time blocking tomorrow.