Post-COVID care: Take it easy on daily chores; try these techniques to manage fatigue, conserve energy
Given what we know about COVID-19 and the immense impact it has on patients’ lives, the road to recovery is expected to be more intense
Getting back in form after any disease is a difficult journey. And given what we know about COVID-19 and the immense impact it has on patients’ lives, this road to recovery is naturally expected to be more intense.
It’s important to remember that it’s not just patients with severe symptoms who have a long recovery ahead, but studies have shown that even those with mild symptoms can expect their lungs, heart and brain to be damaged.
This makes it quite natural for patients who are recovering from both mild and severe forms of COVID-19 infection to feel fatigued and low on energy. The World Health Organisation (WHO) points out that even the smallest of activities require energy and are bound to be difficult to manage while you are feeling tired, breathless and weak following a severe illness.
UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends that recovering COVID-19 patients should keep a note of how tiring their routine activities are to not only understand the pattern of fatigue, but also to manage and adapt to it better.
Things to consider while managing fatigue
The WHO recommends the following strategies for COVID-19 patients to manage their daily activities while recovering at home.
1. Manage your expectations
Accepting the fact that your body is in a weakened state and adjusting your expectations accordingly is very important. You might want to engage in all your regular activities, but that’s a want, not a necessity. Tailor your expectations and goals according to how you are feeling instead of aiming for the impossible when even walking to the bathroom can make you feel short of breath.
2. Ease back gradually
If you get proper care and enough rest, you will be able to take up full-fledged activities like before. But until you make a full recovery, taking it slow and easing into regular activities gradually over time is important. Pacing yourself and giving your body the chance to recover is vital here.
3. Save energy
Understand which tasks you can do without, and avoid trying to engage in them while recovering. Energy, in your case, is the most precious commodity. Saving it should be your highest priority. If you can get some work done while sitting then choose that over the work where you have to stand, bend, walk or reach high.
4. Accept help
It’s fine to accept help from those who are offering it in your time of need; recovery from COVID-19 is definitely a time of need. Things like cooking meals, caring for other family members, getting grocery shopping done, etc, are tasks that you may not be up to, but still need to be done and delegation can help.
The four ‘P’s of energy conservation
As mentioned before, your energy levels are likely to fluctuate when you’re recovering from COVID-19, so conserving it is very important. The NHS recommends sticking to the following four ‘P’s to do so.
- Planning: Plan your activities according to the times of the day when you feel most energetic. Think ahead about the steps involved and fix the things you need to get the work done beforehand.
- Pacing: Break your activities into smaller steps and pace yourself through them instead of rushing. This will help you sustain energy levels better.
- Prioritising: Analyse your personal, professional, familial and social roles and prioritise only the ones which are critical or necessary. Postpone unnecessary tasks for a time when you’re feeling better.
- Positioning: Place or store all your necessities within a short distance of your resting area to begin with. Positioning this way can help you avoid wasting energy on smaller tasks.
For more information, read our article on Caring for a recovered COVID-19 patient.
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