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HealthInfo Canterbury

Conserving energy

Conserving energy is all about doing your daily activities in a strategic way so you have energy for the important things in life.

There are many simple strategies you can use to conserve energy when you have a chronic condition.

The five Ps of conserving energy

Even with a chronic health condition, you can still live a healthy, happy and productive life. Maintaining your activity is good for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Pace yourself

FDP wild flowersThis is a very important skill, which people often overlook. If you notice that you are more tired or short of breath than you used to be, you will need to slow down to get your tasks done. If you rush you will take longer to regain energy. If you go slowly and pace yourself, you will go a lot further before needing a rest.

Don't hold your breath, or rush through the task to "get it over with". This will only make you more tired or short of breath. If you find an activity too hard, stop and recover, then begin again at a slower pace.

Use slow, rhythmic movements and alternate light and heavy activities

Spread heavier tasks throughout the day, week and month.

When you are feeling tired or short of breath, use recovery positions to help regain control of your breathing. Lean your back against a wall or tree, or rest your arms on a bench, chair back, trolley or something similar.

Positioning

Keep your arms and body close to the activity you are performing. Carry objects close to your body and organise equipment or food to be within easy reach.

Keep most activities between waist and shoulder level:

FDP older cook

Avoid heavy lifting:

If possible, sit when you are doing something, as standing uses more energy. Consider sitting while ironing, washing dishes, showering, chopping vegetables, gardening, making a phone call or working in the shed. Use a high stool or chair in your kitchen or at your work bench.

Pause and relax

If you continue to work until you are tired or out of breath you may then take longer to recover. So take regular breaks to rest and recover before, during and after working. Don't wait until you need a break.

Plan ahead for success

High expectations can lead to frustration, so be patient with yourself and set achievable goals. Challenge old habits. Ask yourself, "Is it essential that I do this task in the usual way?" Give yourself time to adapt to new ways of doing things.

Prioritise

resting man

More practical tips and tricks

Where to get help

Occupational therapists can help you work out ways to do your everyday activities in a safe, independent and satisfying way. You can talk to your GP or practice nurse about being referred to an occupational therapist in the public system.

Or you may prefer to pay to see a private occupational therapist.

Arthritis New Zealand runs a helpful programme called Living a Healthy Life. It teaches self-management skills to people with ongoing health conditions, not just arthritis.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated March 2016.

Sources

Photos of women gardening and cooking courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Woman gardening by Poulsen Photo. Woman cooking by taoty.

Page reference: 115418

Review key: HICOE-115418