by Pamela B. Harrell, O.T.R., C.H.T.
Learning to prioritize your activities can greatly help you conserve limited energy stores. This can be one of the most challenging principles to master. Prioritizing requires you to really look at your work activities, household activities, and leisure and recreational activities and determine which ones are the most necessary to do (as well as which are the most pleasurable for you). When assessing your activities in terms of their importance, ask yourself questions such as the following:
Prioritize the most important activities and delegate to others those that are not absolutely necessary. Delegating can be a difficult trait to learn, especially if you have the attitude that you must do everything all by yourself. Try to approach delegating in a positive way by realizing that you are helping to conserve your energy. You may also be helping the people you delegate to by teaching them to accept more responsibility within your household or work environment. By developing a network of family, friends, and neighbors to help complete tasks such as carpooling children to activities, you may be helping other people learn to conserve their energy as well.
Examining your body positioning or body mechanics may give you other ideas of how to conserve energy. By analyzing how you position yourself as you go about your day, you can identify ways to do your daily tasks with less energy, thereby protecting your joints from excess strain. There are also devices you can learn to use to reduce your energy expenditure. The following are some examples of energy-conserving techniques you can incorporate into your daily routine:
There are people who can help you implement these and other changes. Occupational therapists are professionals trained to help people carry out tasks of daily living. For people with arthritis, they can recommend techniques and devices to protect the joints from excess strain. They can also help people alter their work and home environments to make them easier to manage. If you think you may need this sort of help, ask your doctor for a recommendation to an occupational therapist in your area.
When you take time to think about how you are approaching your day and realize how much you have to do (and want to do), it can be overwhelming. But when you learn to accept the fact that you have some difficult but manageable challenges ahead of you, you can begin to make changes in your daily routine that will lead you on the path to energy conservation. Keep reminding yourself that you are making worthwhile changes that will ultimately improve your quality of life. By breaking down activities into smaller steps, prioritizing what’s most important to you, and having a plan of attack, you can begin to feel more in control of your limited energy resources. Like the runner training for the big race, you can do a little bit every day to help pace yourself and stay strong in the marathon of life.
Last Reviewed on June 27, 2012
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