What to Do When You Have No Energy


I was the last person in the house to get sick this winter.

I waited until it barely felt like winter anymore, but it’s been a doozy of an illness, with sinus headaches and fever and all that no-good stuff. What to do when you have no energy.

Being sick is the worst, because we still have to work (at least I’m lucky enough to work from home, where there is a bed nearby) and parent and feed ourselves and our family and take our kids to gymnastics (twice this week because she changed classes) and lead the Girl Scout meeting and help at the Valentine’s Day party and…

So what to do when you have no energy and have to get things done anyway? Here are some things that have gotten me through.

Prioritize and Delegate

What do you really have to get done today or this week?

No really. Most of the things that feel urgent in the moment can really wait.

I have certain deadlines every week, for example, but the amount of work I have to do daily to get them done is relatively minor. (Which is why “look for more work” is on my list as soon as I have the energy to do so, but that’s another issue.)

The house doesn’t have to get that clean. The laundry probably still needs to get done, but maybe not all of it today. Do what you can when you feel good, and leave the rest.

Maybe your kids can help with dinner or your spouse can run an errand to give you a little more time to rest. Speaking of:

Rest When You Can

I know it feels like you can never sit or lie down with all the family things that need to be taken care of, but if your kids are old enough to have any empathy, they will understand your need to be still and calm and maybe even away from them for a little while.

Enlist the help of other grownups in the house if you have them, and go lie down in a dark room. Even a few minutes’ break can be helpful when you know there’s something you have to do (like putting the kids to bed).

Because I’m home alone all day, I try to get a little rest in before I pick up the girl each afternoon, and after I drop her off each morning. That little buffer in my schedule helps me recharge for what is next (and actually would be good to do all the time if I scheduled my days properly).

Hydrate

Drinking a lot of water is important all the time, but especially when you’re sick. Or go with herbal or green tea, and the occasional coffee (caffeine helps activate pain relievers, which is why it is in Excedrin). Just make sure you’ve always got a cup by your side, and that everyone knows which one is yours so they don’t accidentally drink after you. What to do when you have no energy.

Indulge a Little

This is kind of funny, but for years my husband and I have found comfort in cheese dip and soda when we are sick. I pretty much don’t drink soda except when I’m sick, and I’ve gone for the cheese dip and soda combo twice during this illness.

Yes, eating healthy foods helps you heal, but if you can’t taste anything what’s the point in making a fuss? Go for plain pasta with butter and cheese on top, or microwave popcorn, mashed potatoes or whatever kind of bland food you like but don’t eat that often.

Stick to healthy stuff most of the time — I’ve been eating lots of Greek yogurt with strawberries — but allow yourself some things that just feel good, too.

Let yourself skip exercise — and anything else you need to — without guilt. This is self-care time.

That said, try to avoid laying in bed all day scrolling Facebook. That’s not good energy at any time.

Ease Back into It

I’m starting to feel better (thanks to finally starting to take medicine instead of suffering through) but I’m still trying to take it easy as I can. Leave your schedule as clear as you can for a couple of days while you recharge. Maybe do a little yoga or some extra reading, whatever gives you energy when you feel well.

Start doing a little crafting or something creative again. Do things that will make you feel good. Hopefully a little work or parenting or chores will fit into that category, too.

What do you do when you have no energy but have to muddle through work and parenting and everything else at the same time? I’d love to hear your tricks!

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