Energy Saving Tips for YPWC Students
By Staci R. Stevens,
Originally published in Youth Allied By
CFIDS, Fall 1997
You can be successful in school with a
little bit of planning and some minor accommodations. Understanding what type of
learner you are and the types of energy that you use can help you to use your
energy wisely so that you can make it through the day.
Types of Energy
There are many different types of energy.
Learning to identify what type of energy is used during your day can help you
choose what activities will be the least draining.
- Physical energy:
Physical energy includes sitting up in a classroom
standing for extended periods of time, walking, driving or just moving your
- Mental energy: Mental energy involves thinking, listening and
processing thoughts and ideas. Reading this article requires you to read (and
hopefully comprehend) what I am writing. This makes it primarily a cognitive
or mental activity. Homework and listening to professors/teachers also falls
into this category.
- Social energy: Social settings require yet another type of
energy. This is the energy used when "hanging out" with friends, talking to
people at school and going to a football or volleyball game.
- Emotional/Spiritual energy:
The last type of energy I have
grouped together as emotional/spiritual. Attending church or a youth group
uses spiritual energy, while family relationships, friendships and dealing
with CFIDS on a day-to-day basis use emotional energy.
Depending on your class schedule, you
classify the energy you use during your school activities as physical, mental,
social or emotional/spiritual. Doing this can help you to make good energy
choices. Each type of energy can be exhausting on its own, but when they are
combined they become more tiring.
Use Your Energy Wisely
A. Plan rest breaks.
If you have to stay at school or be in class for
more than an hour, talk to the teacher about taking rest breaks. Try to lie down
for these rest periods. You may be able to rest in the school nurseís office.
Try to rest whether you feel like it or not.
B. Talk to your teachers
limitations. Use a tape recorder to
tape classes. Find another student who is willing to share notes and help you
C. Plan your classes to
your best time of day. If you feel
better in the afternoons, schedule afternoon classes. If your best time is
morning, schedule morning classes. (Either way, make sure to take
D. Use energy-saving strategies.
If you are in college, try to plan
your classes in the same location or building on campus. Get a handicapped
parking placard and park close to the classroom.
Avoid three-hour classes if at
possible. Do not take classes for three or four consecutive hours. Schedule a
one-hour class and make sure you have time to rest before your next class. If
you donít live close to the campus, resting in the car is an option. The college
may even be able to provide you a spare dorm room or couch for you to rest on
before your next class. If you donít ask you will never know.
E. Take healthy snacks
Fruit, yogurt, bagels, skim/1% milk, juice
and dried fruit make excellent snacks. Small frequent snacks help to maintain an
energy balance. If you start to feel tired have a healthy snack.
F. Plan study time
yourself. Find a quiet place where
you can study while reclining or lying down using a lap pillow/desk. For every
20 minutes that you study, take at least a 10-minute rest break. Plan to study
when you are most alert. When reading, use a plain index card under the line of
text you are reading. This will help you focus on what you are
If you are overwhelmed by multiple
subjects, do them one at a time. For example, do your math homework by breaking
your study time into little pieces and pacing yourself. Spend 20 minutes on the
math assignment and then put it away to take a rest break and have a snack.
Finish the math and move on to another subject. You will see yourself succeeding
a little bit at a time, but if you make studying this way a habit, you will find
that you can get more accomplished throughout the day and week.
G. Know your limitations
and respect them.
If you are invited to a party, know
that you will be using physical, social and emotional energy. This is a "triple
energy threat" situation. If there is a large group of people, you may have to
use mental energy to focus on one conversation while a number of other
conversations are going on around you. This makes going to the party the
ultimate "quadruple energy threat." Plan to rest before and after the party.
Know that this situation will wear you out and plan for it. If you donít feel up
to using all this energy, consider saying "no thanks" to the
Alcohol, smoking and/or recreational
use may be tempting, but can have serious side effects when combined with
medications you may be taking. Alcohol is a depressant and will make you feel
even more sleepy than you already are. Smoking will substantially reduce your
bodyís ability to transport oxygen, which means that you are likely to have less
energy because oxygen is an energy source.
The bottom line is that using drugs
certainly not make you feel better and, at worst, may cause serious medical
complications. Take care of your body. It is the only one you
There are three different learning
visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn best by seeing, auditory
by hearing, and kinesthetic by doing. Most people fit best into one category,
but you will learn more quickly if you combine all three styles.
If you are an auditory learner, ask
can get your textbooks on tape. You may also consider pairing up with a blind
student and trading services. You can read the book out loud and the other
student can dictate a paper that you can type.
When I set up an exercise program for
persons with CFIDS (PWCs), I incorporate all three learning methods to help them
remember. I tell my client what they need to do to exercise successfully
(auditory). I also have pictures and exercise guidelines written out so that
they can take them home and see the program even if they cannot remember
everything I said (visual). I also demonstrate an exercise (visual) and have the
PWC model what I have just shown them (kinesthetic). It is not difficult
to involve all three learning styles, but it may take a little creativity.
For many PWCs, going to school poses
numerous challenges. Most of these difficulties can be overcome by using good
study skills and making some modifications to your daily routine. Learning to
balance and maintain your energy level can help you to make it through your
school day with enough energy left over for you to do some of the things that
you want to do.
Stevens, MA, is an exercise physiologist and co-founder of WORKWELL, a company
specializing in helping people cope with chronic illness. She was introduced to
CFIDS patients in 1988 by Daniel L. Peterson, MD, and has collaborated with him
to provide an innovative, multifaceted approach for the rehabilitation of
persons with CFIDS.