A key to balance
We use our mental capacity all day; there are decisions to be made, things to remember, and tasks to be done. On top of that, we deal with relationships, exercise, running our home, and a lot more. Being able to rest from mental strain is essential for everyone but is extra important when living with a rheumatic condition.
Both things that our environment requires from us and things we see as voluntary activities affect our health. It's about how we do things, and how much we do. Reaching a balance in everything you do—activities that cost energy and activities that replenish your energy—is called activity balance.
Remember, we’re all different when it comes to the things that cost and replenish energy, and something you enjoy does not necessarily fill your energy banks. That doesn’t mean you should avoid things you like doing, but it can be good to reflect on different activities and how they affect you.
Activity and recovery equally important
Life can feel like a puzzle that is sometimes difficult to put together, and with a rheumatic diagnosis, it can sometimes be an extra challenge as things and events cost more energy and thus place higher demands on planning. Finding your personal activity balance is, therefore an essential key in everyday life with a rheumatic diagnosis.
To find your activity balance, begin by placing an equal value on recovery and activity. Taking the time for recovery after exertion is essential to prevent harmful stress.
By physical overexertion, we often get clear signals from our bodies and understand we need to rest. But it can be more difficult to know the body's mental fatigue signals and learn to stop in time before our brain gets exhausted.
Find your personal activity balance
Mental recovery can mean different things to all of us. We give you some advice on how to think to get a few steps closer to your own balance:
1. Schedule recovery time
Scheduling recovery time as part of all the things you are planning for the week can be a strategy to ensure you don’t forget about prioritizing recovery. Add gaps of “me time” where you can just be, and prioritize activities you know as relaxing. It could be reading a book, going for an evening walk, or a relaxing exercise. Getting into that routine can make a big difference to your well-being in the long run.
2. Spend your energy on things that matter to you
This can be difficult, not the least with other people being dependant on you. Perhaps you have previously seen yourself as someone who always has a tidy home or who is always on the go. But think about it: Is this important to do right now, or is it something I can postpone? Can I ask someone for help? Think about what really is important to you, saving some energy for the things that make you feel good.
3. Be prepared for long-term work
Finding one’s activity balance is not done in the blink of an eye. It takes practice, motivation, and perseverance to both get the right mindset and practically make room for energy balance in life. You will experience setbacks: they are inevitable. The challenge is to try again and again.
4. Build a solid foundation
Begin by looking over your basic routines, such as what you eat and your sleeping habits. You have come a long way when taking care of basic needs. From time to time, this will also be challenging, though. Unpredictable incidents sometimes mess up life—and we are just humans, after all. But if you are going to start somewhere, then start here.