By Staci R. Stevens, MA
Youth Allied By CFIDS, Fall 1997
Young people with chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction
(CFIDS) can be successful in school with planning and some minor accommodations. Understanding what type
of learner you are and the types of energy that you use can help you make it through the day.
The four types
many different types of energy.
Learning to identify what types you use during your day can help you choose what activities will be the
Physical energy: Physical energy includes sitting up
in a classroom, standing for extended periods of time, walking, driving or just moving your body.
- Mental energy: Mental energy involves thinking, listening
and processing thoughts and ideas. Perusing this article requires you to read and comprehend what I have
written. 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: 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.
Using it wisely
- Plan rest breaks. If you have to 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 nurse's office. Try to rest whether you feel like it or not.
- Talk to your teachers about your limitations. Use a tape recorder
to tape classes. Find another student who is willing to share notes and help you with homework.
- Plan your classes to correspond with 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 breaks.
- 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. If you don't live close to the campus, resting in the car is an option. The college
may even be able to provide a couch for you to rest on before your next class. If you don't ask you will
- Take healthy snacks with you. Fruit, yogurt, bagels, skim/1% milk,
juice and dried fruit make excellent snacks. Small frequent snacks help to maintain an energy balance.
- Plan study time and pace yourself. Find a quiet place where you
can study while lying down. For every 20 minutes you study, take at least a 10-minute rest break. Plan
to study when you are most alert. When reading, use an index card under the line of text you are reading
to help you focus.
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."
Plan to rest before and after the party. Alcohol, smoking and/or drug 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 more sleepy than you already are. Smoking will reduce your body's ability to transport oxygen,
which means that you are likely to have less energy.
MA, is an exercise physiologist and co-founder
of WORKWELL, a company specializing in helping people cope with chronic illness.