Knowing your body’s capacity…

Welcome, today we are doing something slightly different, I am going to share my professional & personal experience…to bring awareness to issues that many are living with…


So grab your beverage of choice & a treat you love & sit with me, while I share the following & we reflect upon it together…

If you have been traveling with me here on this journey, then you may be aware that I am a registered & qualified Clinical Counselor & Supervisor (Meet Jennifer). Counseling chronically ill patients in pain management therapies & coping strategies was a part of my career for many years…

I would often be asked by my patients on how they could explain their chronic illness to their family & friends?  This is a tricky one, especially in the chronic health conditions of Fibromyalgia (FM) & Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) including many other chronic conditions where the patient looks well! My advice to them, at that time, was to be honest in what they were experiencing to the Significant Others in their lives.

Then I became chronically ill, you may like to read Focus  … At first I would explain what I was experiencing with FM, to those who asked, in the following way; that FM was like having the worse flu you have ever had in your life, with all the aches & pain wracking your body…without the coughing & runny nose…the intensity may lessen or increase but the pain & fatigue is constantly there…

I have noticed over the last few years, that many ways of describing how depleted energy levels are felt in chronic health conditions have surfaced on the Internet, especially with FM/CFS. The most popular one is the Spoon analogy but there has also been the Laptop & the Mobile Phone battery analogies put forth. Which have worked for the person/s using them.

But I wanted an analogy to give to my patients on how the body acts physiologically within chronic illness & how this impacts us psychologically.

Thus, I was bantering this back & forth with a professional colleague of mine one day & we agreed upon the following concept…

The “Well” battery verses the “Chronically ill”  battery… 

The well person’s body battery in its 100% capacity is used in the following way; 

  • 30% energy is used for the normal functionality of the autonomic systems of the body, such as the cardiovascular, nervous, respiratory, gastrointestinal systems, neurological functions & cognitive processing etc…
  • +30% energy is used for work loads in working life,
  • +30% energy is available for socialization, relationships & emotions,
  • +10% energy reserve to draw upon for support when needed = 100% capacity.


The chronically ill person’s body battery in 100% capacity (which remember may not always be actually at 100%!) is used in the following way;

  • 75-85% energy is used for functionality of autonomic systems of the body to try & function normally, while being severely impacted by the physiological stress of the chronic health condition/s…
  • +15-25% energy is used for work, relationships, socialization & emotions.
  • No energy reserve left, as already being used to prop up the above areas! = 100% capacity

Thus you can see that energy levels are severely hampered by chronic ill health. This is why we are always fatigued, this is why our emotional capacity becomes depleted very quickly,  this is why our cognitive processing can be compromised, also known as mind/fibro fog (please read Listening… ) & our ability to socialize, greatly limited! And why so many of us have to lessen our workloads or stop work all together. And why our Significant relationships need to have great kindness & understanding.

The body will always prioritize its energy into the autonomic systems to function, as near as possible, to normal healthy system capacity, to keep us alive!

This knowledge helps us to become wiser within our own body’s capacity & capabilities. Knowing the above concept helps us to be kinder in our expectations of ourselves & our capabilities within chronic health conditions! We are operating at greatly depleted levels of energy for living our lives. It also helps us to prioritize & pace ourselves in the activities in which we choose to participate in, on any given day to live our new normal.

I hope this has been informative & helpful to you, whether you are living in wellness or in Chronic ill health, we need to be kinder in our expectations of others & ourselves but at the same time live the fullest life we can within our own body’s capacity…You may enjoy reading my Our unique Capacity…

Until next time dear friend…



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34 thoughts on “Knowing your body’s capacity…

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  1. That makes a lot of sense because some mornings, even after a long night’s sleep (which is also rare), I wake up with no spoons…I begin from a minus position, all my energy has focused on just existing. Thanks Jennifer for sharing your lived & learned experience. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am having one of those “depleted” mornings, after many days in a row of intensity. And while I am so glad to be able to have held up under that necessary intensity, your words are a comfort today as the fog settles in. Thank you for sharing these insightful words. They are a true blessing, to be able to rest with Jesus here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennifer, thanks for sharing this in such a clear way! I don’t necessarily have a chronic illness, but I do experience a lot of neck and shoulder pain, esp. after a day of a lot of physical work. So I understand how people can look fine but feel terrible. Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #TeaAndWord.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting post, Jennifer. The analogy and stats of the “well” and “chronically-ill” battery is eye-opening. It helps get a glimpse into how the body works and how it also will affect us emotionally and psychologically. Visiting by your invitation as a page buddy at Moments of Hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jennifer
    Chronic pain and illness can be very hard to live with…but having realistic expectations and hope at each stage of recovery are crucial parts of the healing journey. Thanks for sharing. ( I came across your post at moments of hope)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely to have you drop by Jade 😀
      This is true with acute (short term) illnesses but sadly with chronic illnesses (long term incurable conditions), there is no physical healing journey unless a cure is found or a miracle occurs (which those of us who have chronic ill health are very open to). So knowing how our body distributes its energy within chronic health conditions/disease can help us to have a greater understanding of our changed capacity & live our lives within that kinder understanding 😀
      Instead of being frustrated in our incapacity, we can live as fully as possible in our new capacity 😀


  6. I so identify with this post. I hope you can email me sometime. I would love to discuss issues with you about my dealings with chronic health issues. Thanks for sharing on the #LMMLinkup this week.

    Liked by 1 person

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