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How To Be Productive With A Chronic Illness

Do you have Fibromyalgia (like me), Chronic Fatigue, Arthritis, Lupus, or any other chronic illness? Those of us with a chronic illness have to make choices about things that the rest of the world do not necessarily have to.

Instead of defining our days by what we didn’t accomplish and resenting our bodies for making simple things sometimes difficult, we should focus on how to move through our day with acceptance.

Accepting our limitations can be a challenge in itself. It’s common for us to mangle our days with resentment and push through the pain, or accept that this is what life offers us today.

Acceptance is the key to productivity, especially for those of us who do not know what our bodies will allow us to do.

How do we rest when we have deadlines? How do we finish projects when we are in pain? Answering these questions will help us come to acceptance.

Creating a routine will help us walk through good and bad days and increase our chance of having more good days!

1. I begin my day slowly with a self-care regimen.

Journal writing, yoga or walking the dogs, vitamin supplements, medicine, and breakfast.

Our day goes south when we miss any part of our self-care list.

Finding out what we need to best start our day may take some experimenting.

Do we need to stretch, gather our thoughts or make sure we have taken our medication?

Eating breakfast is essential to maintaining a healthy energy level. What is on your self-care regimen?

2. One of my first activities is to think about my day and to determine how much energy I have to start with. Did I sleep well and wake rested?

We know we don’t have a never-ending supply of “spoons”.

So when we have to know how to plan our day, we need to know exactly how many “spoons” or units or energy we are starting with.

This theory was created by Christine Miserandino.

3. As I am thinking about my day I am setting priorities. Do I have any appointments or deadlines?

I ask myself, how long are the appointments and how much time do I need to finish the deadline? With our priorities in place, we can pace ourselves.

If we only have enough energy to take care of the priorities, we can choose to either make time for rest or let go of all the other activities.

In taking care of priorities first, we are accepting our limitations and giving ourselves the chance to feel like we have accomplished what we need to do.

4. Before leaving the house I plan my fluid and food intake.

When we don’t plan how to feed ourselves we run the risk of brain fog which causes us to completely lose our productive flow.

Sodas cannot be counted as liquid as they only deplete our bodies and cause our sugar levels to spike and then crash.

There is controversy over how much water we need to drink. My rule of thumb is to drink at least 20 oz. between meals.

Our goal is to develop a plan that will create physical stability so we can ideally manage a full day.

5. During the day I make sure I get up from my computer every hour or two.

And drinking a consistent amount of water or tea ensures that option.

When we stay glued to our computer our anxiety can raise in direct proportion to the stiffness of our limbs.

Even if it’s a short walk around the office or a few stretches at our desk, that pause will ensure that our energy will continue to move.

6. Be honest with your co-workers and employer. This is probably the most important step in acceptance and therefore increasing our productivity.

When we try to push through the pain, deny our energy limitations, or pretend our bodies are machines, we make mistakes and become irritable and lose any chance of managing our day.

By admitting to our illness we can better pace ourselves, know when to rest, and when to pour out the spoons we have.

And by admitting to our condition we open ourselves up to the possible support that may be there, instead of shaming ourselves for our limitations.

Some of us may not be fatigued by the disabilities themselves, but by the constant effort required to pass as non-disabled.

The shame we carry and act on can greatly increase our pain and energy drains. According to the Spoon theory,

spoons (units of energy) may be replaced after rest or a night of sleep.

However, those of us with chronic diseases such as auto-immune disorders, and various disabilities may have sleep difficulties.

This can result in a particularly low supply of energy.

When we haven’t taken care of ourselves, or our illness just simply flares we lose the option of being productive.

And that is when we are really challenged to accept ourselves and our limitations.

Table Of Contents

Katherine Hurst
By Mari Selby
Mari Selby is the founder of, a publicity and marketing firm that has been working with authors and publishers since 1998. As an established author and poet herself, she is also a columnist for magazines. Selby ink is passionate about books that make a difference in people’s lives, their relationships, society or the planet.

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