Spring Cleaning Your Chronic Life: Cleansing Your Calendar
Do you find yourself having to cancel or reschedule dates/appointments more than usual because of pain and exhaustion? Are you committing and scheduling like you did before your chronic illness? The reality is that no matter how carefully you plan, if you aren’t planning with consideration for your diseases your number of cancellations will only continue to grow.
One of the reasons I have been able to increase the amount of commitments I have made is that I schedule them with each of my conditions in mind. For every date I scribble into my planner I pad it by blocking out a few days before and after. Commitments that are going to require an extraordinary amount of physical/mental commitment are granted larger amounts of time. Following this one simple rule has minimized how often I cancel, because it gives my body time to rest up beforehand as well as time to recover. I mark these dates on my calendar so with a quick glance I know not to make plans on those days. These blocked out dates don’t always mean that I won’t do anything on them; if I am feeling up to it I may go out to dinner or a movie. Those outings are usually last minute invites that sometimes work out. Blocking out dates keeps me from planning too many physically taxing activities too close together.
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I had to get over my need to please everyone and accepting every invite that came my way. A choice had to be made, either I stopped making plans with everyone or I needed to limit the amount I made. The degree of minimization depends on my physical status. When my psoriatic arthritis is remission or when my endometriosis is behaving I allow myself to plan more than when all of my conditions have declared war. Be warned that friends and family may not understand this in the beginning. Many of mine felt that I was choosing someone else over them or that I was distancing myself from them. This of course was not true and after a while they could see how this also benefitted them as I was able to follow through on what I had planned.
Do what you can
Decluttering your calendar won’t guarantee that you will be able to fulfill every date you make, because let’s face it our illnesses have a mind and secret schedule of their own. However, I have found the more I cater to them by planning with them in mind the more they allow me to go out and play. You can’t please everyone and your body at the same time and since we have to live in our bodies doesn’t it make sense that they should come first? I doubt my loved ones would want me to end up bed ridden for months or in the hospital just because I didn’t want to disappoint them. Are you over committing? Start documenting how long it takes your body to recover from an outing and begin using that as a guide if you are new to padding your calendar.