Energy Conservation & Environmental Modifications

Fatigue can be a barrier to daily life participation for those with dysautonomia. ¹

Energy conservation is one way to manage fatigue by changing the activity or the way you engage in the activity to minimize the amount of energy needed to complete it. ²

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Before you alter your activities, it is important to evaluate how you are currently engaging in your tasks and how much energy you are expending during each task.

One way to do this is through an activity and symptom tracker.  You can track your fatigue and pain levels for all activities you complete throughout the day for at least four days.

Then, you can find patterns related to what activities are most fatiguing, what times of the day are most and least tiring, and what activities are most meaningful and worth spending your energy on.

Once you figure out your areas of concern, it is time to start thinking about how you’ll implement energy conservation techniques.

There are four principles of energy conservation, including planning, prioritizing, pacing, and positioning.

Below are examples of how to use the four principles of energy conservation. ³

Plan Prioritize Pace Position
Plan to eliminate unnecessary tasks (ex: air dry dishes instead of hand drying) Prioritize rest, leisure, and getting enough sleep each night Never rush. If this is difficult for you, consider using music to help pace your tasks Sit when you can - sitting reduces energy use by 25%
Plan your activities to avoid extra trips - gather supplies and equipment you need before doing the job Decide what MUST be done today vs. what COULD be done today Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to complete a task Slide items rather than lift them
Plan your week ahead of time, spreading out physically harder tasks over multiple days Prioritize your day based around your “good” time and “bad” times Clean a different room each day Use wheels to move things - garbage can, shopping cart, cart for cleaning supplies, etc.
Plan to combine steps when possible (ex- pull underwear and pants up to your knees before standing to pull them both up at the same time) Delegate tasks as appropriate Take a break before you get tired Store items that are used often at a level that is comfortable to reach to avoid unnecessary bending/stretching.

Another way to manage your energy is to modify your home environment so that you are performing your tasks as efficiently as possible.

Below are some ideas.

The first column contains simple ideas you can implement today. The second column holds more complex suggestions and may not be feasible depending on your home environment.

Home Modifications (simple) Home Modifications (more complex)
Rearrange objects based on the frequency of use Laundry on the main level
De-clutter so that your objects are easier to find Entrance without steps or added ramp
Place objects in sequence of their use Full bath and bedroom on the main level
Consider putting all necessary items on the main floor Widened doorways for wheelchair or walker use
Grab bars in the bathroom Stair lift

Berry, N. (2011). Appendix D: Energy conservation and work simplification techniques. In Smith-Gabai, H. (Ed.) Occupational therapy in acute care. (pp.583-587). AOTA Press. {2, 3}

Strassheim, V., Welford, J., Ballantine, R., & Newton, J. L. (2018). Managing fatigue in postural tachycardia syndrome (pots): The Newcastle approach. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical, 215, 56–61. {1}

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