Planning while living with a chronic illness can be extremely exhausting.
For me, it’s crucial to have a system in place that makes planning the day out as easy as possible. This is something I’ve had to do my entire adult life. Having a chronic illness makes it more difficult to travel, find places to eat if you have diet restrictions, as well as do day to day tasks like take a shower, cook and clean.
I’m going to go through some things that I have found helpful while balancing life with a chronic illness:
1. I use a weekly planner to write down everything I need to do for the next week.
This includes things like doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, vacuuming and/or cleaning, laundry, class schedules (while I was attending college), etc. I try to limit activities that are more exhausting in a given day to two. If I have a doctor’s appointment, I’m not going to plan to do much that day because I need to mentally prepare for my appointment and don’t know how long my appointment is going to last.
2. I limit my travels.
Lately, when I’ve been traveling, it’s been for day trips to visit family, friends, and attend doctor appointments. I try not to do more than two day trips in a given week because of how I may feel after. I plan out as much as I can, like what I will be eating while I’m traveling. I take some type of granola bar with me to snack on just in case I need it. Depending on how far I’m driving, I try to have at least one rest stop that allows me to get out of my car, stretch, use the restroom, get gas, etc. It’s also important that I have nausea and pain medication on hand (if I have any) just in case these symptoms arise while I’m gone. I use my GPS to know how long my trip will be and where the halfway point will be so I can plan when I’m going to stop at a rest area.
3. I schedule rest days during the week.
I try to give myself at least one rest day (lately more with the pain I’ve been experiencing) where I don’t have anything planned and can relax as much as possible. This may consist of working on my phone or computer, but I’ll be laying in my bed or sitting on the couch while doing so.
4. I make use of planning apps.
Personally, I like to use the Calendar and Notes apps on my phone to help me keep track of what I need to do each week. It can be helpful to have the same information in multiple places, especially if you are experiencing symptoms that can be distracting like pain and fatigue.
Living with a chronic illness is unpredictable, but trying to plan for the day or week ahead can still help with managing all the things we still have to keep up with, despite our pain and illness.