The Challenge of Keeping a Little Distance from your Energy Boundary

This is a post I wrote especially for ProHealth’s Inspirational Corner and first appeared there about 5 weeks ago

With illness such as Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and Lyme disease one of the most important things we need to learn is how to live within our energy envelope. Most of us at least try not to overreach ourselves because of our experience of the consequences when we do.  At the beginning of an illness we might also appreciate the wisdom of the recuperative nature of rest but as our illness becomes chronic and recovery doesn’t come as quickly as we were hoping for, our focus tends to shift towards getting at least some semblance of a life back. When it comes down to it, pacing and living within our energy envelope is more often motivated by getting as much out of the now, rather than a belief in the possibility of healing.

When life is so restricted it’s totally natural to want to do whatever you can to get what little you can out of it, thus most of us play a dangerous game of skirting as close as possible to our energy boundary.  The needs of our spirit often seem to be in conflict with what our body needs and we often find ourselves dancing precariously close to the precipice of a crash, flare or relapse. Even if we get nimble enough to hang on to the edge as we fall, there’s always a risk that one day or fingers will slip.

There is no doubt that rest in itself is not a cure for chronic illness, but because of this there is a temptation to undervalue it as our illness becomes chronic. We refocus on doing what we can do to make the most out of the situation we’re in and tend to see rest as something we have to do in order not to feel worse.

This week I had an epiphany. I realised that with all my illness management skills, I’ve got really good at giving myself the best life I can with the energy that I have, but I get as close to my energy boundary as I feel I safely can in order to get the most out of life.  Although I aim to be careful enough not to risk being pushed past my limits by unexpected events, I’ve been forgetting to save a portion of my energy for healing. My symptoms are very mild and I have a good life, but I haven’t really been making a great deal of progress.

I do invest energy in healing, I invest it in meditation, t’ai chi, yoga and  preparing healthy food but I tend to use all the extra energy I gain from these pursuits to  live a bigger life at a sustainable level. But what if I didn’t use all that energy? What if I saved a bit more of it for my body? What if I allowed myself to rest enough not just so that I wouldn’t get worse but so that I had a chance of actually getting better?

It’s my belief that hope for recovery of chronic illness shines brightest at the level of giving the body as much support as possible, so that one day it will find the answer itself. I trust that the human body understands the complexities of healing far better than any scientist, and that it is always doing its best to heal.  I work on the basis of aiming to offer it as much support as I can in its healing efforts, but then when it comes down to it, I’ve been stealing  some of the energy it could use for healing so that I can live a bit more of a life.

My goal now is to remedy that with extra rest, to make sure I keep a slice of my energy for my body to use on getting better.

It is so tempting to live life at the limits of our energy envelope, especially when we’ve been missing out on so much for so long. But we need to balance that against our desire for progress and recognise that a little more rest than we seem to need to get by, could play a valuable part in that progress.

Do you keep enough distance from your energy boundary?


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9 thoughts on “The Challenge of Keeping a Little Distance from your Energy Boundary”

  1. I have just had a huge crash while trying to start running again and feel back at square one. I thought if I pushed myself through the pain my body would start working properly again. This post makes me realise that I should be resting to start healing. Thanks

    • At the beginning I really pushed too thinking that my determination could beat the illness. unfortunately that isn’t how this illness works! It’s like you have to out-whit it instead of push through it. Good luck, hope you get over your crash soon, and when you do, remember that small slow steps will get you further!

    • Wow. This is precisely where I am right now! Trying to run again so I can work my way back up to doing triathlons. If you need a buddy, look me up on Facebook Mary Roach in Summerfield, NC.

  2. I think my issue is that I don’t necessarily know where the edge of my energy is most days until I realize I could turn around and wave at it! I have so little compared to what is necessary for life (work, toddler, husband, house, hobbies) I can’t imagine using less!

    • It’s so hard when our limits are suddenly lower than we could ever imagine them to be. We really have to look at life from a totally different perspective. Outsmarting the illness has to be a priority. Good luck in rising to the challenge of finding new ways of being a wife, mother, employee and happy person that can be done with far less energy. It will pay off in the long run!

  3. Thank you for another great article 🙂
    I also live always on the edge of my energy envelope and most of the times i slip out of it and crash 🙁 I don’t know why but i keep believing that to get better from CFS i have to reach again a level of activities i can do during a day without exacerbating the symptoms, but this wouldn’t leave any time for the body to heal! I feel confused…

    • Hi Nicola, Doing too much is going to be far more prejudicial to CFS than doing to little. But it’s natural to want to push as it’s a way of being that used to work before getting sick. I’e found that the more relaxed and easygoing I can be the better my energy improves without having to try to do more! Perhaps when you feel the urge to do something you could ask yourself ‘can I do this in a relaxed and effortless manner?’ if you can it’s unlikely you’ll go past your boundaries and if you can stay relaxed your body will be in a state in which it can send it’s resources to healing! Good luck! Julie x


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