A while back I created a post on Living Inside the Energy Envelope, as developed by Bruce Campbell, PhD. But the problem is I forgot to post the second part the next day on how you do this! Oh well – here’s a perfect example of brain fog at its finest!
First, you will need to go back and read Living Inside the Energy Envelope. Then come back to this post and continue with the rest of the post.
In the first post, Bruce Campbell explains to us how the energy envelope works and to determine how much energy each activity you particpate in might use up.
In Part 2, Bruce Campbell describes how to understand limits in different areas of life by determining:
- How much sleep do I need each night?
- How much daytime reast do I need daily?
- How much time can I spend safely on the computer?
- How far can I walk?
- How long can I stand at one time without making my symptoms worse?
Develop a Detailed Understanding
Over time, Dr. Campbell was able to write down about 12 items. Here is what he had to say:
“In addition to those just mentioned, I included activity limits (how long I could do various activities like driving, housework, reading, and spending time with people), stressors in my life, food sensitivities, sensitivity to light and noise, and emotions. It took me at least a year to develop this more detailed understanding, but I felt rewarded all along the way because every limit I defined helped me gain more control.
Heres a sample of my energy envelope from 1998, when I had been ill for about a year and a half.”
7 1/2 hours, starting by 11 pm
10-30 minutes on most days, sometimes more
Usually OK for activities like errands & housework, in moderation
45 minutes walking OK on level ground
Reading & Computer Reading
OK most of time, but must limit time on computer, especially at night
About 2 hours, sometimes tired after 30 minutes
1 hour, whether walking, shopping, cooking
Usually OK with one person or small group but respond strongly to some people and vulnerable to stressful encounters
Make CFIDS symptoms 30-50% worse. Secondary illnesses are more severe now than before
More easily upset than before. Strong emotions trigger CFIDS symptoms
Life mostly stable at present, thankfully
Havent found any food sensitivities so far. Diet same as before
Noisy settings and loud noises are very bothersome, e.g. restaurants
Later I added a section to the end of my definition, in which I noted my major limits and my greatest vulnerabilities. This section was a helpful summary of my current situation and also suggested where work might give the biggest payoff in reduction of symptoms.
I learned a lot from studying my envelope. One surprising realization was that my limits were more restrictive in some areas. During a period of time in which I thought that overall I was at about 60% of my pre-illness level of functioning, I could do only about 30% as much exercise.
I found it very helpful to share my envelope definition with selected others. Getting outsiders views of my situation helped me to be more realistic in my self-assessment and also helped others to understand me better.
Bruce recommends if you want to describe your energy envelope in detail, being by assessing yourself in the 12 areas listed above or you can use these two examples as inspiration to create your own by clicking here and here.
The goal is to be able to put together a very thorough understanding of your limits. This way you will know what you have to do to minimize symptoms while increasing your chances for improvement. Campbell warns that getting together your detailed description for your envelope is time consuming and it can take months to complete. But in the long run it will be worth it when you are able to improve your quality of life.
Learning Through Trial & Error
Bruce recommends experimenting to find out what your limits are and keeping good records. Exercise is one example. Bruce found that by experimenting with his exercise times he found what time of the day he was less likely to have symptoms.
Stress & Relationships
With CFS & Fibromyalgia, stress is a big problem because with these illnesses we become stress sensitive. It is important to understand what your sources of stress are and to try to avoid those. Bruce recommends listing stressors in your life and to identify any that cause the greatest limits on your health.
For relationships, answer the following questions to give yourself an overall idea of your limits in the area of relationships:
- How much time per day can you safely spend with other people?
- How many people can you interact with at one time?
- What are your limits in different settings, for example at home vs. in a restaurant?
- What are the effects of different types of contact, for example email, phone and in person?
- Are your limits different among different people? Can you handle some people better than others?
Analyze your different relationships:
- Are these relationships supportive or tension filled?
- Are others understanding and sympathetic to your situation?