Economy of Movement & Conserving Energy to Fight MS Fatigue
Last updated: November 2020
When you live with multiple sclerosis, the fight against fatigue can seem like a never-ending battle. If you’re like me, you are always looking for new ways to improve your energy levels. Winning the war against fatigue takes more than relying on medication; it requires us to change the way we approach daily tasks. Looking at the way we approach activity during our day and making changes to the way we approach it can be an extremely effective way to conserve energy and decrease our levels of fatigue.
Changing the way I move around the house to save energy
I know that tasks drain me faster than they do most people, so I do my best to plan around that. I conserve and utilize my energy in the most efficient ways I can. What does that mean? Well, for me, a lot of this means planning my day better. For example, simply changing the way I do things around the house. If I need to use the bathroom and will be passing through the kitchen, I give some thought as to what I might soon need from the kitchen, so I don’t have to make another trip back through there. Maybe that means refilling my drink sooner than I planned so that it coincides with my trip to the bathroom. It may seem silly, but small changes like that add up. Essentially, I try to make the most of my movements. I discuss this train of thought more in “MS, Ergonomics, and the Economy of Movement”.
Planning meals to reduce exhaustion from cooking and cleaning
I think when most folks hear the words “meal prep,” they’re thinking about dieting or some sort of nutrition plan. While that can certainly be the case, that’s not what I’m referring to here. Cooking and cleaning up meals can be exhausting. So when I do it, I pretty much always plan on creating leftovers and doling them out into easy to use containers for later in the week. One meal will end up being additional lunches and dinners during the week and allow me to eliminate the tiring process of cooking and cleaning. This saves a tremendous amount of energy.
Use whatever help is available
If you have help, use it, please. If someone offers to bring you dinner or offers to help clean, or to pick up a few groceries, take them up on it. Simple acts like that, that are likely no big deal to them, can make a tremendous difference in our daily lives. That’s energy we are able to save and put towards something else. Similarly, if you have a device that helps you, don’t be afraid to use it. Like a cane, for example, or a dishwasher. Don’t feel bad about using any form of help, whether it be a person or some sort of gadget. There is no shame in it.
Set proper expectations
Fatigue is extremely frustrating. On the days when I am experiencing MS-related fatigue, it feels like my whole body is shutting down. It also prevents me from doing whatever I want. No matter how many tips and tricks we try, chances are, we are still going to experience some fatigue. It’s important to understand that and set proper expectations for yourself. Otherwise, you’re going to be even more frustrated than you normally would be. I think it’s important to understand that some days are going to be a wash, where the fatigue will be insurmountable. That’s OK, that’s not a reflection on you, that’s the disease. There will still be other days though, where you can chip away at it and still get things done.
Eliminating other causes of fatigue
Try to remember that the first real step for fighting MS-related fatigue is to eliminate other sources of fatigue, so you're dealing with just one enemy at a time. Most of these tips, or areas to look at, are small ways to help you can help yourself out when it comes to fatigue.
Do you have some fatigue-fighting tips? Let us know in the comments below!
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