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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Conserving energy

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Conserving energy is about doing daily activities in ways that leave you enough energy for the things that matter to you most.

There are many simple ways to conserve energy when you have a long-term health condition.

The five Ps of conserving energy

Even with a long-term 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

If you notice you're more tired or short of breath than you used to be, you'll need to slow down to get your tasks done. If you rush, you'll take longer to regain energy. If you go slowly and pace yourself, you'll go a lot further before needing a rest.

Do not 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 feel 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.


Keep your arms and body close to the activity you're 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:

Avoid heavy lifting:

If possible, sit when you're 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're tired or out of breath, you may take longer to recover. Take regular breaks to rest and recover before, during and after working. Do not 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.


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 general practice team about being referred to an occupational therapist in the public system.

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

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2022.


Page reference: 115418

Review key: HICOE-115418