Importance Of Conserving Energy
If you’re dealing with an autoimmune issue or a chronic illness, and you start getting better, you may experience what I like to call “fake energy.” Fake energy is energy that you experience and treat as though you are 100% healthy. In reality, you need that energy for healing.
Unfortunately, spending that energy is not how you get better; that is how you burn yourself out. The way you heal is by taking that little boost of energy you have and using half of it in your daily life and storing the other half inside you. That other half that you store is going to be doing more work than what you did out in the world that day. When you go to sleep at night, that energy you stored is going to be working HARD to do all the healing work.
What Does Conserving Energy Look Like?
I understand it is hard to conserve energy, especially if you haven’t felt vibrant in a long time. There are so many things you want to do and people you want to spend time with, and you will be able to do all those things in time. If you get too eager in the beginning stages of healing, it is going to take you longer to recover. When you burn through all your energy your body is working twice as hard that night. The next morning you’re back to the same exhausted place, and your body has nothing left to keep you healing.
What does conserving energy LOOK like?
- reading a book
- taking a nap
- going on a walk
- doing yoga
- getting coffee with friends (for stress relief, not gossip)
- watching a movie
All of these activities may be labeled in society as “lazy and unproductive,” but as a doctor, I am telling you that THEY MATTER.
Being Lazy IS Productive When You’re Healing
This piece about feeling lazy is just an illusion and a pressure that is put on us by society to “GO, GO, GO!” In reality, when you are healing from any disease or illness, you need all your energy for healing. When you experience these episodes of more energy by using some and saving some, you get to celebrate your progress while still progressing. If you go out and spend all your energy on getting things done in life now, you have to work just as hard, if not harder, to recuperate.
The problem is that when you are working hard to recover, it looks like you aren’t getting anything “productive” done. In reality, you’re being hyperproductive, just internally. Getting things accomplished internally that is what we call healing.
Ignore The Haters
This concept is hard for a lot of people. Especially people who are used to juggling things like a family, career, personal goals, and their community. When you take time to slow down and let your body recover, you may feel yourself being judged by others.
All those people who are judging you for their selfish reasons they aren’t the ones helping you heal; they are helping you get stuff done for their needs. If you want to get well, you have to do it on the inside. Which means you have to sleep well, and eat well, go for long walks to your tolerance, which means you don’t exhaust yourself when you’re going out and doing things. Exercise to your tolerance, which means you don’t push yourself too hard while doing those activities.
Doing “lazy” activities is what it takes for your body to get all the right chemistry, hormones, endorphins, etc. to get your body into healing mode. Lazy when you’re healing means your body is working hard. And if you respect this process and let it run its course, you will get better. Remember that you’re working hard no matter what anyone else says or your voice inside your head says. I know sometimes it’s easy to feel bad about sitting on the couch or sleeping eight whole hours (when you need 9). Shut off that inner voice that is all about doing for others and being productive. Let yourself feel good about taking care of your health and your body.
Rest And Recovery – Extreme Athlete Style
Now, after everything, if you still don’t believe me take a look at what the highest level athletes do. I read recently about the Kenyan marathoners who collectively dominate the world in this sport. They get up in the morning; they go run a marathon and then come back and take a nap under a tree. Then they have someone else bring them lunch, they get a couple of hours of sleep in, and in the afternoon they go run another marathon. Later that evening, they sit around while someone else brings them dinner, and then they sleep between 9-11 hours. The next day they get up and do it all over again.
What we tend to focus on is what they did actively, which is running A LOT. What we tend to ignore is how much time they spend recuperating. It is hard work to rebuild what you just tore down. Sleeping in the middle of the day is as crucial to their success and long term endurance as actual running.
Society’s Got It Backwards
In America, our schedule looks more like, “I went out and ran 6 miles in the morning, and then I went to work an 8 hour day. Then I jacked myself up on coffee in the afternoon so I could keep going, and then I worked out again later that night and only got 5 hours of sleep.” We are working out just as much physically and mentally, but the difference is we are not recovering. Our model from society and our thought process does not allow for recovery. If you want a long career of whatever you care about in your life you need to build recovery into your routine. Which is why “lazy” is NOT lazy by standard definition. Recovery is hard work.
Here’s To Better Health,
Dr. Steve Puckette