In this post, Coach, Trainer and former sufferer of ME/CFS and fibromyalgia Simon Pimenta shares strategies for making your life easier.
Looking back to when I had ME/CFS, I realise that there were things that I could have done to make my life a bit easier.
These things didn’t entail any more overall effort.
In fact, a few strategic interventions could actually reduce the effort and energy expended.
The fact is, at times I made my life more difficult than it needed to be and I didn’t have the energy to waste!
For example, when I had ME/CFS, if I was going out, I would spend as much time as possible resting.
I would often not allow enough time to get ready and ended up getting stressed and rushing.
As a result, I would undo the benefit I got from resting.
Prior to getting ME/CFS, if truth be told, my time keeping wasn’t always good- I would often be rushing unnecessarily, even though I hated being late for anything and always endeavoured to get to places on time.
I recall going to see a hypnotherapist to get help with stress, which I recognised was hampering my recovery.
I had to travel across London and allowed plenty of time.
The appointment was at 11am and I arrived at the nearest station an hour in advance of the appointment.
So I found a cafe, had a cup of tea and a snack and wrote some questions I wanted to ask.
It was great to be early! It made life easier.
When I arrived at the clinic early, the receptionist said to me “Help yourself to a drink. There are some goldfish there.”- pointing to a small pond in the reception area. She laughed when I told her I had already eaten. 🙂
I decided that I really needed to change my approach to time keeping.
I was determined to allow myself to rest as much as possible AND allow enough time so I wasn’t having to rush.
I started to think about how long things took and worked backwards, so that I knew that if I had to be somewhere at 12pm and it took 45 minutes to get there then:
I would need to leave at 11am, to allow for traffic
I needed to be getting ready at 10.45pm
I needed to rest at 9.45am
Shower at 9.15am
I needed to finish breakfast and washing up at 9am
Sit down for breakfast at 8.30am
Actually working backwards made me realise how much time it takes to have breakfast etc and I built in some slippage time, as things often take a bit longer or something comes up that needs dealing with.
“Routines for results. Spontaneity for variety.” Anon
I heard Tim Ferris, Entrepreneur, share that quote. I think the key message is clear; if you want results, create routines.
When I had ME/CFS, having routines – for example scheduling rest periods and using a timer to limit how long I spent on some tasks did help.
Even when I got well, although I could do more and didn’t have to stop an activity, I have found that setting a timer and taking breaks keeps me focused when doing work.
What About You?
It may be that you are good at time keeping.
So consider what is an area that you could work on to make your life a bit easier and therefore help you manage your energy better?
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
1. Learning to say no when you don’t have the energy to do something
If you are a people pleaser and put everyone before yourself, learning to say no is essential.
Start small if need be, but take steps to add this word to your vocabulary.
Your body will thank you!
2. Planning your meals for the week and doing a regular online shop
I have a friend who does a weekly shop like clockwork and knows what evening meals he and his family are having for the week.
I know when I am organised; for example I do plan my meals and do an online shop, life is a bit easier.
3. Scheduling rest periods
4. Using a timer to limit how long you spent on tasks
5. Having a place where you put your car or house keys
When I enter the house, after playing ‘hunt for the car keys’ once too often, my car keys are now put in a specific place. My house keys are always in my pocket.
6. Organising papaerwork
How often are you looking for that appointment letter, invitation etc. when you need it?Having an organiser like this where you put these things can save time.
Related to the above point, some believe that less clutter can help you think more clearly.
It works for me.
Mess often equals chaos. Maybe there are exceptions!
If decluttering seems like a big task, start small. 5 Minutes a day can add up.
8. Using a Calendar
This seems obvious, but I have encountered people who don’t use one!
I made the decision a year ago to use the calendar on my iPhone instead of a paper diary. As I carry out it round with me, it has made life simpler.
9. Asking For Help
I know for some people this is a really hard thing to do. I will address this issue in another post.
10. Developing An Exercise Routine
A client said that she got into the habit of doing yoga daily. After 6 weeks, she felt strong enough to walk around the block and instead of feeling tired, she felt she could do it again, and did it on the next 2 days. This was something she hadn’t done for 3 years!
Even if you are poorly, getting into a relaxed state and simply visualising doing exercise has been shown in studies to strengthen muscles. That’s incredible! You can read more about how to approach exercise in this post
5 Steps To Making Your Life Easier
Follow these steps to help you identify strategises to make your life a bit easier:
Step 1: Set A Timer
I suggest setting a timer for 15 minutes, but do a shorter period if you can’t manage 15 minutes.
Step 2: Brainstorm
Think about situations or issues that are causing you stress.
Step 3: Put Pen To Paper
Write down as many solutions for each issue as you can. Don’t judge any of the ideas, just write them all down, as one idea may trigger another.
Step 4: Take Action
Pick one area to work and decide on 1-3 simple strategies you could implement this week to address this issue.
Identify a small step you can take today. It may take just a few minutes to complete.
Step 5: Review
At the end of the week, review your progress.
Give yourself a pat on the back for the progress you have made.
If you feel you have’t quite addressed the issue, identify the steps you need to take to move forward.
If you feel you have addressed the issue, you can focus on a another area to work on if you wish.
Doing the above exercise after I posted this article, I identified a few areas including the following:
- Do my daily yoga! A couple of weeks ago, I had a busy few days and didn’t do my daily yoga. I pulled a muscle in my leg. It was very uncomfortable and took over a week before it completely was back to normal. Lesson learned!
- Do a weekly online shop to be delivered on Monday evenings- I have an online course meeting on Mondays so have to be in that night. Book the slot for the following Monday the Monday before- this saves a few pounds as the delivery cost is at its lowest.
- Turn off laptop and iPhone by 9.30pm at the latest- I sleep better if I do this.
What strategies do you have or have you identified to simplify your life?
Do leave a comment below.
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After working in a demanding job as the Director of a Housing Trust, he went off sick and remained unable to work for the next 8 years.
He discovered a pioneering approach to resolving health issues and got back his health, and now trains others using these same techniques.