Between fatigue, muscle weakness, imbalance and other problems associated with MS, living with the disease often demands a lot of effort and energy, even for the simplest of tasks.
Conserving (and managing) your energy can help you spend more of it doing the things you want to do as opposed to those you have to do.
These MS life hacks can help you make that happen:
First, be a fan of a plan:
How many times have you walked into another room only to retrace your steps to fetch an item from the room you just left? Or come home from running an errand only to remember something else you needed while you were out?
Energy conservation begins with planning (and then prioritizing, pacing and even how to position yourself and your tasks throughout the day in order to shave even more work off every day tasks).
The big idea is to thoroughly scrutinize your daily activities and lifestyle and then develop a plan — complete with strategies and necessary tools — that allows you to manage more of your life and activities with less effort. Once you’ve created a plan, you can then address priorities, pacing and positioning.
Use this handout from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada for help getting started.
- When bathing or showering, use warm, not hot water. This helps eliminate shortness of breath from a buildup of steam and condensation as well as reduce heat sensitivity.
- Using a bath bench, bath stool, grab bars or a raised toilet seat can make bathing and toileting easier and safer.
- Use zipper pulls.
- Try magnetic button shirts (men’s and women’s here).
- Jewelry helpers can make necklaces and bracelets easier to put on by yourself.
- Wear loose clothing for easier breathing.
- Sit when you can and sit while putting on shoes and socks.
- Wear slip-on shoes.
- Use a terrycloth robe instead of a towel to dry off.
- Organize and lay out clothing the night before.
- Begin dressing your lower half first as this uses more energy.
- Avoid bending and reaching. Instead, use a reacher, sock aid or long handled shoe horn or lift your legs up onto the bed or chair.
- If you have a weaker limb or limbs, it is easier to dress the weaker limb first. It is easier to undress your strong limb first.
- Wear clothes that are easy to put on and take off (for example, use clothes and shoes with velcro® instead of small buttons, clasps or laces).
- Avoid using scented products such as hair products and lotions. These can irritate your lungs and cause shortness of breath for you and others around you.
- Find more personal care tips here, here, here and here!
Common household task energy savers:
- Use a dishwasher.
- Let dishes soak instead of scrubbing.
- Use commercial pre-wash instead of scrubbing.
- Air dry dishes rather than hand dry.
- Cut open sealed bags — don’t tear them.
- Wear no-iron permanent press clothes.
- Use long handled mops, dusters and dustpans.
- Divide activities and do them throughout the week.
- Balance light with heavy tasks.
- Make one side of the bed at a time.
- Sit to change pillow cases and unfold linen.
- Clean the bathtub by sitting or kneeling.
- Clean one whole room at a time instead of going back and forth between rooms to do each job.
- Consider asking for help from family members or hiring a cleaning service or housekeeper.
- Have work in front of you rather than at your side.
- Slide rather than lift objects.
- Use long handled dustpans and cleaning sponges to decrease the need for bending.
- Make a weekly plan for major jobs such as laundry, cleaning and changing sheets on beds.
- Do one job each day.
- Keep a trash can in every room to avoid too much walking.
- Buy more than one of each item you use around the house. For example, keep sink cleaner in both the bathroom and kitchen.
- Keep a vacuum on each level of your home.
- Set up your work area so you do not have to move around a lot looking for items to complete the task.
- Plan rest times and pace yourself.
- Do not try to complete the whole task in one session. Break it into smaller, easy-to-do steps.
- A good guide to follow is to take 10 minutes each hour to rest. Do not rush.
- Plan your movements around the house. Get into the habit of putting everything that needs to go upstairs or downstairs near the staircase. You’ll avoid some climbing that way. Ask for help with heavy objects.
- Put everything you use for a particular activity in one place. For example, before sitting down to watch TV, gather everything you’ll need – phone, glasses, remote control – and then take it easy!
One last note: There are plenty of resources and plenty of tips and hacks that may help you save time and energy (you’ll find some here, here, here and here). The point isn’t necessarily to do them all, but instead, to be aware of your daily activities and then incorporate those that make sense for you.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today 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 another 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.