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Being productive with chronic illnesses

It can be so hard and so frustrating being productive with chronic illnesses, we have less time and less ability to get things done; So, here are some tips to help.

being productive with chronic illnesses
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
Image Description: A woman’s hand is seen close up while filling in a planner page

I got sick in my early twenties, I had just finished my diploma in nursing, I was part of the project 2000 intake. I had finally found the ward I wanted to work on and was starting to really learn and gain confidence.

However, I had been struggling for a while, and the trigger had been a chest infection I caught while at work. I had started getting migraines at least once a week, and was struggling with fatigue.

Like most people I had been trying to push through as much as I could, which of course just made my symptoms worsen. Even after a huge flare that left me unable to walk on my left leg, I refused to use a walking stick and tried several jobs.

In the end it became clear that working was making me worse, and my body was screaming for me to rest. Giving up work left me depressed and unable to figure out my place in the world, and it can be easy to get lost when society only values what you can do!

Here I am though, twenty odd years later, I run a YouTube channel, and help my husband run the social media for a local owl sanctuary as well as running this blog. Recently my health had worsened and I had to stop making two videos a week and drop to one, every Friday.

So, you might be wondering how I do this while also being a carer, with my husband, for my mom who has Multiple Sclerosis. I am going to tell you how I keep on top of things and stay productive with several chronic illnesses. So pull up a chair and I shall begin:

Being productive with chronic illnesses:

  • Plan – I am someone who loves to be organised, and planning my month, week, and day helps me so much. At the end of every month, me and my husband sit with our diaries and plan our appointments, and our content for both our YouTube channels, my blog and the owl content. Weekly I update & reassess according to my health and then daily I plan rest times and things I need to do.
  • One thing at a time – Once you know what you need to do each day, don’t worry about the things ahead. Instead, concentrate on the job at hand, pay attention to not rushing and how you are feeling in the moment. This is a good opportunity for some mindfulness (you knew it was coming) but constantly check in with how you feel so you don’t push yourself.
  • Rest – Always plan for rest time, I rest between each job or task I need to do, and remember rest looks different for everyone. For you it might be a nap, or reading or watching something on TV, but whatever it is make sure to do it between each job you have planned for your day.
  • Let go of expectation – Too often we still feel pressure to follow what society says we should be doing. But remember, we cannot and it is not because we are lazy but because we have symptoms that prevent us. So, let go of expectations if you have three things planned but you feel unwell half way trough the second, just rest. The organisation and planning is to help you plan rest time, not so you can push yourself.
  • Work within your hours – I know we are programmed to be up early and to work 9-5, however… our bodies work differently. Your workable hours might be just two hours in the afternoon, or between 6pm and 3am, so listen to your body. Get to know when you feel better and worse, when you are foggy and work around them. Stop trying to make your body fit into what you have always done, that will get you nowhere but feeling worse and flaring more.
  • Use things that help – I love cooking but without my perching stool I couldn’t do it. I love to walk in my garden, but without my walking stick it would be impossible. Use things to help, sit while you dust, use a stool in the shower, anything you need utilise! It will not only make you able to do more, but you will feel less symptom flaring at the same time. Speak to your occupational therapists for advice and you might be surprised at the things they can help you get or suggest you use.

I know we all want to feel useful and do the best we can, but using your time better, listening to your body and changing your environment will make such a difference.

I really hope this gave you ideas and ways you can be more productive with chronic illnesses. If you have any more suggestions leave a comment and let everyone know

Thank you xx

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