5 Ways to have a Productive Day with a Chronic Illness

Chronic Illnesses, Invisble Illnesses, Mental Illnesses, Physical Illnesses, University life

“Having a productive day is very subjective; what is productive for one person is not for another”.

Some days, I find waking up, washing and eating productive. Others assess,  I am being productive when I  do University work.  What I have noticed though – is we all have tasks that need to be completed and this can send us into panic mode. The vicious cycle, of where to start and where to finish has a ripple effect – like a child who got denied candy at the fun fair.

 If you are someone sat there reading this with a chronic illness, I am sure you have an inkling of the cycle I am talking about. If you don’t well… I sit here, in envy.   What I am going to call the ‘ torrential storm cycle’ makes you question which direction to go in first.   Anxiety and stress are no strangers, crawling around your body, taking its toll , physically and mentally.  This post is designed to stop you in your tracks, so you aren’t continuously interrogating yourself about ability and self-worth.

“I spend 90% of my time in bed, but a chronic illness does not mean accomplishing your goals are not possible”.

Achieving those goals may just take comprise, planning and longer than you anticipated.


5 Ways to have a Productive Day with a Chronic Illness

1. Evaluate tasks ft. the spoon theory

If you haven’t heard of Christine Miserandino’s Spoon theory , it is a great place to start to help you have a productive day.  The theory in a nutshell, is that anyone who is chronically ill has 12 spoons each day (each one resembling energy) and spoons are exchanged for tasks.  The amount of spoons exchanged will depend on factors such as the length of the task and how strenuous. The point here, is spoon must be used wisely so you don’t burn out. By ordering tasks by importance you can identify what needs to be done on what day and start to put a plan in motion.

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 In reality, you may find executing a plan is not always possible. However, the spoon theory gives you a general consensus of how much you can get done in a day.

You may find – once you start having a productive day you are at the opposite end of the spectrum. At Uni, I get told a theory is just that a theory. I am taught to challenge theorists view. So it may not be a surprise to hear I wasn’t a firm believer of the Spoon theory at first.  I was so productive one day I felt on top of the world. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had completed an exam, handed in an assignment, found a job, booked a flight, travelled home from Uni and packed for a holiday and cuddled my little bunny.

Shortly, after this semester came to a close – I realised I used the reserve of spoons for months. I had to fly home 3 weeks early from working abroad, quit the job I found and was  behind in every subject at Uni. Barely, attending lectures and hospital appointments.  What I am trying to emphasise, is pushing yourself one day really can have a detrimental effect on your health.

“You need to work out what is realistic to get done in a day for YOU”.

 Which takes me to by next point…


 2. Break down tasks

 Breaking down tasks makes things more manageable.  Something,  I am training myself in like a disobedient dog. I am one of those people who seeks to think holistically to even do a task.  However, breaking down tasks can relieve stress, because you know you are achieving something – which has got to be better than nothing, right?

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I have found people have been more understanding about my illness when they can see that I am trying rather than wallowing in self-pity.  The amount you need to break-down a task will depend on its complexity. It may be a case of trial and error, but you know your body better than anyone in time you will have this down to a tee.

 If it’s something academic, you could try and break things down with titles and research areas and tie the ideas together later.  You may not get the best grades you are used to due to time constraints.  However, at least you will pass and can try and work harder when you are feeling a bit brighter on future work. If the task is practical, like cooking, you could do prep at a certain time and then cook later in the day.  Or if you’re a little bit cheeky – ask someone to help you to make the task manageable.


3. Follow your Body Clock

Most people would say, sort out your body clock first and foremost. It may work, but it is something I have been trying to do for over 10 years. My body just likes to be up during the night. The fatigue and pain is more manageable after I have digested by one meal per day.

“To have a productive day you must follow your natural body clock”.

You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by taking a U-turn and trying to achieve tasks when your energy levels and pain threshold is low.

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“Remember you can always move tasks to another day as long as you’re motivated to accomplish them”.


4. Relax… just not too much

Whether you have a chronic illness or not, everyone should take time to wind down.  If you’re fortunate enough TAKE a bath, or go and visit someone who does! Watch a comedy, listen to music or sit in silence, do what works for YOU. I am not saying you are not going to wake up still feeling fatigued because you probably will BUT subconsciously your body and mind is still getting a valuable break and you get a hint of happiness.  I find relaxing whilst doing a task slowly usually gives me the right balance. However, this may not work for everyone.

“Just remember, don’t relax too much or you won’t get anything done”.

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5. Relieve stress with a pet

Patting pets are proven to having a calming effect on humans (Rodriguez, 2012), which may help you to think more clearly and be more productive! It is ideal if you own a pet and go and give them love when you are stressed and they are in a good mood. If your pet is moody, trust me try hugging your friends’ pet or the other four tips AND come back to this one later.  When my pets are hungry they treats me like food and it makes me feel rejected and has the opposite effect.  If you cannot keep an animal, I suggest you look out for the nearest dog on your walks or go visit an animal shelter. That way you can have your rare day out, killing two birds with one stone.

 


Thanks for visiting Brains & Bodies. I hope I have shed some positive vibes on how to have a productive day.


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I would love if you shared this post to help others with chronic illnesses have a productive day – everyone deserves one! For some reason all my shares reset back 27 from 84 , but please keep sharing. 🙂


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Do you have any tips how to have a productive day? – I would love to hear them below.


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Over and out,

my name


References 

Rodriguez, T. (2017). Pets Help Us Achieve Goals and Reduce Stress.

Spoon theory (2017). The Spoon Theory written by and spoken by Christine Miserandino. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn5IBsm49Rk [Accessed 10 Nov. 2017].

 

5 Challenges Blogging with a Chronic Illness…

Chronic Illnesses, Invisble Illnesses, Mental Illnesses, Physical Illnesses

 with a sprinkle of advice.

Hello, there 🙂

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If you haven’t read my other posts, welcome. It’s not a secret anymore I am a spoonie. I am Morgan Isabella Shaw, a 24 years old that suffers from Ehlers Danlos Sydrome. However, recently when I was procrastinating, I remembered I haven’t confessed how challenging it is to blog when you have a chronic illness.

I will admit I find multiple things an uphill battle. Cooking, washing myself, walking, relationships and blogging is no different. Actually, it doesn’t happen – unless I am blogging from bed. Even then, five minutes into starting a post I tend to experience a  flare up and struggle to finish writing it that day.  As, I throw my laptop down, I feel disappointed in myself I have not met the strict self-inflicted deadline.

If you land on my homepage you will notice I endeavour to publish one post week.

One post a week – is that it?

Many fire back at me with an eye roll or one raised eyebrow. This made realise how many people do not understand how many challenges are behind the scenes for me to keep on generating posts.This post will let you walk into another part of my mind and reveal 5 challenges a chronically ill person may face when they decide to become a blogger…


5 Challenges of Blogging with a Chronic Illness

1. Blogging is Addicting

 I don’t know if blogging is addicting for everyone or if it just applies to me because of my addictive personality.  I use blogging as a natural remedy for my clinical depression so I try to do it as much as possible to release emotions.

The problem with this is, I have found is I end up not getting other important things done. For example,  I sit very confused looking at University briefs, because I can’t find a private tutor this year –  so I turn my mind to blogging instead.

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If you find yourself in this position you need to like me – try and snap out of it and  make a loose time management schedule, so you can do everything.  As I move through the academic year I am aware that my blog is going to have to take a backseat if I am to pass it, not because I am abandoning you! I also have to admit the more I want to blog the more I shut myself away from my friends. However, I don’t want to give up blogging.  For once I am starting to enjoy one thing again, which in turn makes me feel less suicidal on the whole.


2. Limited Energy

With most chronic illness comes chronic pain, fatigue and brain fog which makes it difficult to concentrate.  I spend every spare second I have whether that be on the toilet or public transport thinking of new blog ideas and content. The issue associated with this is, my brain goes into overdrive – I  now don’t know how not to think.I am awake until the early hours of the morning. I can’t blame blogging entirely for this – I have always been known as a lady of the night up with pain. However, before my mind got a longer rest.

When my I-phone is ringing in my ear  I know the next day  has hit.  I then *sigh* reaching for the closest can of coca-cola to be able to manoeuvre up right and override the extreme tiredness for a short period of time.  Due to my levels of tiredness I get fed up very easily…

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So, even if I have the best idea for a blog – I lack motivation  to actually blog as even the computer screen stares back at me like a fiend.  A part of this is attributed that with a chronic illness, you never know when bad patches will attack you.  This means it is also difficult to plan a content and schedule and actually STICK to it.


3. Anxiety and Negativity

 I can be a very negative person. To date, I will be honest I only have 66 followers.   I become anxious that no one will like or share my posts and that even sharing my reflections will be worthless.  I panic that the more I write the worse my academic writing for University will become and I am convinced I am going to fail there too.

The reason behind this is, blogging is very descriptive writing and University expects a much more critical standpoint for assessments.  I then wonder if I am being too ‘open’ with the public in what I am sharing and worry that it will affect future opportunities. For example – I need to pull my finger out my arse and start applying for 12 month placements for my degree.

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I frequently question, if having a blog will be a hindrance and shed light that I used drugs in my past, have clinical depression and that I am disabled. I don’t want special treatment but I know I need to disclose my disabilities on a job application form because my pain affects me on a day-to-day basis.  Whilst, this is all spinning around in my small brain,  I then worry about when I take a back seat from blogging –  if I can ever get the passion back because for other hobbies when I lost them, it was lost forever…


4. Being a Citizen of the Blogosphere

It is also no secret I struggle with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. I find that when I read someone else’s blog to try and learn about other illnesses I don’t always understand what I am reading initially. Everything just gets lost in translation.

How do I overcome this?

I spend a lot of time on Google to understand what the illness is first and then go back to the individuals’ blog.  All of this is interesting but very time consuming.  You may be thinking – well just skip this part, but that would be a vital mistake.  Commenting on posts is essential to improve your writing skills and how you engage with other people.

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5. Gaining Traffic and Post Engagement

In October, I received just over 3,000 unique visitors. Although, I am not sure I really did receive this many as it is likely  some of these visitors were in fact me stalking myself using my friends’ phones as I was without one for a while.

I am unlucky with any electrical product! ( I  was definitely was born in the wrong century)..

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Additionally, I don’t have a strong social media following across many platforms.  I spend the most time on the one where I do have a following – Facebook, to try to gain traffic for my blog.  I am also putting ‘all my eggs in one basket’ and hoping when I finally set up a YouTube channel this will improve my traffic and engagement… as I try to figure out how to increase my Twitter and  Pinterest following.

On Facebook I post my blog posts on my wall, into a couple blogging groups and into chronic illness support groups when I have permission to do so.

 


That Sprinkle of Advice 

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Do you have a chronic illness and are thinking about becoming a blogger?

 DO IT!

Just remember don’t punish yourself for not being able to post as much as you would like to gain a following.  Fellow bloggers divulged that blogging consistently is very important, where I have fallen short a little bit as the times and days I post content really does vary. This is something I am going to work to improve as I become more experienced and I hope my readers understand that this is not always be possible.

On groups, ensure you always read the pinned posts in groups or you can find yourself getting an inbox of angry admin messages and deleted out of groups.  I find the most effective way to promote your blog on Facebook is through Facebook pages BUT be careful you will be blocked by Facebook if you are a repeat offender.

I think if you post a series on one theme, you may gain more followers. However, I don’t do this because my mind is scatty and like to think of lots of different topics at the same time!


So, guys there are the challenges I have faced blogging with a chronic illness. Next, you can expect to find 5 more general challenges I found since becoming a blogger and what I’ve learnt about myself since becoming a chronic illness blogger.


Sharing is Caring

I would love if you shared this post to raise awareness of some of the challenges a chronic illness blogger faces!


Have your Say

If you a blogger what are some challenges you face?

If you’re a chronic illness blogger do you face similar or different challenges to me?


 Like what you see? 

Join me on my journey on social media;

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WordPress

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Thanks for staying tuned in bed with me and I hope to see you back soon.

Lots of Love,

my name

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