This blog post references The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. If you haven’t read that essay yet, please do.
Chronic illness is all about managing your physical, emotional, and mental reserves, also known as “spoons.” After several years living with juvenile arthritis, social anxiety, and IBS, I’ve developed a few strategies for managing my spoons so that I run out of them less often.
On good days when you have a lot of spoons, if you already know what needs to be done, you can make the most use of your productive feelings. Keeping track of what tasks you need to do when you’re up to it saves time in the long run, and of course, spoons.
Make a Schedule
If mornings tend to be when you have the most energy, try to plan doctors appointments, social engagements, and parent-teacher conferences for your more alert, less pain-filled mornings. If you don’t do well waking up before noon, plan your life’s tasks for the later hours of the day.
Keep it Flexible
A schedule is a great plan for the day, but sometimes your health isn’t going to keep up with your usual demands. Let yourself take a day off from tasks that can wait when you need to.
Remember Your R&R
In addition to planning periods of time to be productive, it’s important to allow yourself the necessary time to rest between activities. Build in some relaxing periods of reading, napping, stretching, showering, walking, listening to music, or otherwise just treating your mind and body well. Include some time like this every day.
Little Bits Every Day
One of the most stressful and paralyzing social scenarios for me is needing to make multiple phone calls in the same day. Phone anxiety is a real issue for me. So I try to make one phone call every day, so that every day progress is made, and every day the list gets smaller. It means I almost never need to make two calls in one day, and never need to make twenty.
Ask For Help
If you’ve got a good support network, use it! Ask people who care to help you with the things that are hardest for you, whether that’s grocery shopping or getting to and from work or cooking dinner after a long day, or just encouragement to do these things on your own.
Be Gentle With Yourself
You are disabled. Life is hard. Some days you will feel able to conquer the world and some days you won’t. You matter on every single one of those days. Treat your body and mind kindly. You’ll recover spoons for the next day faster.