5 Small Steps That Have Made My Busy Weeks Easier

5 Small Steps That Have Made My Busy Weeks Easier
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This school year has been unique, to say the least. As a high school teacher and college counselor, I’ve been lucky to work at an institution that has made an effort to allow everyone to continue attending in person. We have numerous and extensive measures in place that have allowed us to safely remain in the building.

The workload and stress levels, however, have been high. I can only imagine how our first responders and medical staffers working on the front lines are feeling. You all are incredible.

In addition to the increased expectations at work, I also have increased responsibilities at home right now. I live in an apartment on a small, private horse farm, and the owner is active duty in the military. When work gets crazy for her, I’m there to pick up the slack, and she’s been quite busy lately.

Because I’ve worked on farms for more than 10 years, I’m very familiar with the tasks and usually enjoy them. But with everything going on right now, I feel more exhausted than usual.

Chronic fatigue is the toughest part of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome for me. While the muscle soreness is challenging, I usually find it easier to push through that than feeling tired all of the time. As a result of the extra work I’m dealing with, I’ve discovered a few strategies that help make life a little easier. They also allow me to make the most of my time so I can get to bed early.

1. Lunch prep

While meal prep is certainly not a new idea, I’ve never really been into it. This year, I’ve found that getting my lunches together on the weekend makes my morning routine much quicker and less stressful. Portioning out hummus and pretzel thins, getting leftovers ready to go in microwaveable containers, and laying out fruit and snacks means I can throw food in my lunchbox and go.

2. Staying on top of things

Sometimes I have to push myself to take care of little things, such as sweeping the floor or corralling the dog toys that land everywhere. But by taking five minutes every night to get things in order, I keep the house from getting away from me.

3. Not staying on top of things

Yup, the exact opposite of No. 2! While taking a few minutes each night to straighten up is great, I’ve learned to recognize that if I’m super beat, taking a night off won’t be a problem. The key is not to take off multiple nights in a row if I can help it.

4. Planning ahead to make the best use of my time

Many farm chores are less difficult than they are time-consuming. For example, scrubbing and setting up a water trough to refill isn’t physically taxing, nor does it take long, but a 150-gallon tub can take 30 to 40 minutes to fill. Thinking ahead and cleaning and setting up a trough to fill as I drive in means it can fill while I go inside, change, and take care of the dogs. I try to use every minute to my advantage so I can actually have a few minutes to relax at night!

5. Find time for me

It’s obvious, but even 30 minutes can make a big difference. Whether it’s reading a book (I’m currently reading “GodPretty in the Tobacco Field” by Kim Michele Richardson) or watching a TV episode on DVD (“Everwood” and “When Calls the Heart” currently are on my docket), a little bit of time to sit down and decompress before bed is great.

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Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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