There is a rule in designing innovative products and services that if you create a solution that works for “extreme users” (people who are very demanding), then your creation will often end up working for the majority for the population too. A wheelie suitcase is a great example of this! Initially, it was made for people with limited mobility, but it eventually became a product used by the majority of people.
Having recently beaten cancer, I was asked to write a couple of chapters of a book for newly diagnosed patients. One of the topics was energy recovery and cancer-related fatigue (CRF). While writing, I was reminded of this “extreme users” principle, and that what works for people with CRF may well work for the wider population too. So, I thought I would share the results of my research in this blog.
In 1999, a team of researchers from Beth Israel Medical Center in New York came up with a set of methods called the “6 E Rule“. I found this simple approach very effective while I was going through chemotherapy, and I still use them every day to rejuvenate and recover energy.
6 E Rule
The more we know about our bodies and minds, the better they’ll serve us. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you prefer to work in the morning or evening? Would you rather eat three big meals a day, or five small ones? Do you know any relaxation techniques? Have you tested different types of physical activities and chosen the ones that feel the most natural and give you the greatest joy?
Educate, educate, and then educate yourself some more. It doesn’t mean you have to study medicine or spend a lifetime on internet research. Listen to your body and consciously choose a lifestyle that brings you health and joy.
2. Energy conservation
It is important to ration your energy by excluding excessively energy-consuming activities and replacing them with less tiring activities. This principle is related to acceptance of your situation. If you are exhausted or ill, there is no getting round the fact that it will take time to recover, and if you keep trying to “push through”, you will just prolong the whole process further. People sometimes really struggle with this. For example, if you had an active lifestyle and then find yourself having to take time to recover from an illness, it can be difficult to slow down. But the more in tune you are with your body, and the more you really listen to what it needs, the faster you will recover.
Regular physical activity not only has a positive effect on how our bodies look and feel, it also has a major role to play in coping with stress and tiredness. Exercise and other physical activity produce feel-good endorphins and improve our ability to sleep.
If you are still unconvinced of the importance of increasing physical activity in your daily life, consider the following positive effects of regular exercise:
- Lower rates of coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, colon and breast cancer and a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness.
- A healthier body mass and composition and enhanced bone health.
- Higher levels of functional health.
- Better cognitive functioning.
- Higher levels of wellbeing.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), adults aged 18+ years should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of both.
4. Energy restoration
Energy recovery is another challenge that we must face. Meditation and relaxation exercises are my favourite energy restoration techniques. I especially like a type of meditation called body scan. You can find guided body scan meditations on YouTube or Spotify, but you can also do it by yourself.
My colleague Kasia wrote instructions for this type of meditation in one of her blog posts: Balance your stress.
5. Easing stress
Stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. In fact, 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress or anxiety daily! Relaxation techniques, hobbies and passions, rest, healthy sleep, talking to a good friend, sport — these are just a few methods to release stress and tension. What are your favourite ones?
6. Eating well
Choose healthy foods that you enjoy. For example, I am a vegetarian, so I must always be mindful that I am getting enough protein. What helps is developing an awareness of your own daily diet. You can do this by logging your food using a free application (e.g. My Fitness Pal or Fitatu) or by consulting a dietician. And don’t forget to drink lots of water!
The 6 E rule is not complicated. Try it, adapt it, and let us know how it works for you! I also encourage you to read more about mindfulness in one of our blog posts: 7-Day Mindfulness Challenge with M-Powered.