For many years I’ve read about the 15 minute rule. You’re supposed to set the alarm for 15 minutes and work like mad to work on a chore or project. If you do this routine often, you’d be amazed at how much you could accomplish.
As my chronic illnesses have progressed, I’ve found that if I do this for 15 minutes I will crash for the rest of the day. I might feel alright while I’m up, but it would always hit me with symptoms of intense fatigue, shortness of breath, racing heart, and neuropathy. I found myself very discouraged and felt worthless at not being able to make any progress on my to-do list.
This was also a problem for me at physical therapy. The standard appointment is 1 hour of suffering through all the exercises. After 4 rounds of physical therapy I always felt like a failure. Physical therapy isn’t designed for someone with lots of chronic illnesses. It’s designed best for people overcoming injuries or recovering from surgery. No matter how many times I tell the therapist about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, they still assign treatment for a “normal” person.
Doing an hour of exercise puts me literally to bed for 1-3 days. This isn’t doing me any good. My body is not normal and things must be done on a smaller scale. That’s why I’m trying something new.
Instead of 15 minute times of work I’m going to try 5 minutes of work. It’s important for me to actually set the alarm on my phone because I will keep trying to go longer. I’m just competitive enough with myself to push forward, even though I know it will hurt.
Here are some of the things I really want to do, and I can do 5 minutes of them:
- Clean the kitchen
- Scrapbook (or at least put the photos in an album)
- File paperwork
- Organize a cabinet
Now, I can’t do all of these in a row. There needs to be a good rest in between each 5 minute segment. Some days, I may only be able to do one of these. But, one is better than none. And, for a person who is performance or work-oriented this makes me feel better. When you feel defeated, don’t quit. You just have to try another way to get it done.
I may not be able to do 5 minutes of everything. I can’t do 5 minutes of walking, because my feet are just too bad. Walking only 5 minutes brings severe pain to my feet. There’s always something new that is hurting, so I have to figure out a solution.
Using a tall stool in the kitchen will let me mix up a batch of muffins without causing extra pain. Heading to the couch to rest between steps in a recipe is often necessary. But, in the end, there are still delicious muffins to eat. No, I’m not superwoman. I’m just me. And, that’s alright.