Bathing with Chronic Fatigue
Showering is an exhausting endeavor with central sensitivity. It may be the most exhausting thing you do in a day, it may be all you can get done in a day. But it can be easier and less exhausting if you’re ready to give up on doing it like everyone else. When it comes to central sensitivity, nothing is done like it’s “suppose” to be. Rather, it’s modified to suit YOU. If you have activities in your day that aren’t modified or tailored to your limited energy, you may be waisting a lot of energy unnecessarily.
When exhaustion hit me full force in 2000, I tried everything until I found a way that worked best for me, and I didn’t stop until I did. My way may not be right for you, but if you don’t mind breaking the rules a bit, it will save you a lot of time and energy.
Bath chairs are a big no-no for me. They are too hard to sit on (sharp pains), and slippery, and awkward, and it’s damn near impossible to reach everything while on them. If it’s time for me to bathe, I want to feel clean afterwards, and bath chairs only impede on this – in my opinion.
The trick is to think of washing your hair and your body as separate activities.
For your body, take a hot bath when you need to. It doesn’t take a terrible amount of energy to sit in the tub and just soak. If you’re feeling a bit energetic, get to scrubbing and shaving. Do this in the morning, when you first wake up, when it’s easy to talk yourself into things and just do them without question.
Morning grogginess makes you highly suggestible, which eliminates all the mental back-and-forth that only adds mountains to your exhaustion (“I’m too tired to bathe, I have to get undressed, and run the bath, and get in the bath, and stay up in the bath, and get out of the tub, and dry myself off…”).
Avoid the mental run-around and circular reasoning by making it a habit to bathe first thing. Run a hot bath, your muscles will thank you all day long. Put in a little mineral oil to keep your skin from getting to dry. Add bubble-bath to make it more fun, dim the lights and light some candles, play some soft music, add peppermint oil for muscle relaxation and to perk you up mentally, and close your eyes and imagine your at the spa.
Use a long handle scrub brush so you don’t have to struggle to reach hard-to-reach areas. Use a quality razor, not the cheap ones, they save you time by getting the job done on the first stroke, not the second, third, forth. If you want to run the shower for a couple seconds after your bath to make sure all the soap is off, do it. Taking a long hot bath is relaxing. It’s 1 part meditation/relaxation, 1 part physical therapy. So, if you have relaxation and physical therapy time set aside every couple of days, or everyday, doing this will save you time and energy by combining activities.
Let bathing be a source of relief, not a source of stress.
While sitting in a bath tub soaking your body is hardly breaking the rules, washing your hair might be. Some may opt for washing their hair in the kitchen sink, others may prefer sitting on the tub floor with the shower on, others may opt to having a sit down tub installed. However, for me, none of these are options. I can’t stand long enough for the sink, the tub floor is to hard even with a pad, it kills my back to sit that way, and with low water pressure (which comes with low income housing), it take 10-15 minutes to wash my hair. THAT’S TOO LONG, for me. Not to mention I hardly have the funds to have a new tub put in for a rental, even if all the other issues didn’t apply.
So, I break the rules. Instead of washing my hair under the kitchen faucet, I wash it under the tub faucet at full flow. Instead of sitting in the tub on a foam bath pad, I knee on a foam bath kneeling pad. And guess how long it takes me to wash and condition my hair? 2 MINUTES flat. Towel dry, brush, and off I go.
Yes it’s hard to bend over like that, yes it’s better to wait a little while after waking up to do it so you’re muscles are a bit loser, and yes I use one hand/arm on and off to support my back. This routine helps me avoid the need for perfumes and dry shampoos with a crap load of fragrance, which is an impossibility for me due to my chemical and smell sensitivities.
I bathe on different days than I wash my hair.
I wash my hair when I think it needs it, not on a daily basis. It’s actually a good thing to not wash your hair every day – it dries it out. Same goes for your body. And if you eat healthy, and drink penalty of water, you reduce the chances of body odor being an issue. In 15 years of doing this, no one has ever complained, and I have family members that do nothing but complain, so I’d know if it was an issue. I always feel clean, smell clean, and look well kept. I wash my hair 2 times a week, and my body 2 times a week. If I need a refresher, I can lather up quick and rinse after I wash my hair for a total of 4 times a week.
Since I’m homebound, keep in mind I’m not subject to the same activity levels as others, I don’t get “dirty” or sweat a lot, and I’m not in public places all day. It’s easy to stay and feel clean in your house just sitting around all day. If I work out enough to get sweaty, I step into the shower to rinse off, maybe lather up a bit with soap, but it’s a 2 minute thing right after I work out before I crash – but bathing is easier.
So if you spend most of your time at home, but you feel the need to wash your hair and bathe daily, or bathe the traditional way, I implore you to revisit why. Is it because you genuinely need to, or because that’s that way you were taught and the way you did it before? Because, if you were taught and lived like everyone else, and you’re no longer like everyone else, why are you still doing it that way?