Last night my brother-in-law asked my opinion on the blueprint for their kitchen. It’s naked to the studs with an open map to plan task paths. We moved the location of light switches, refrigerator, dishwasher and talked through the ergonomics of a built-in nook. The emphasis here wasn’t only ergonomics but their lifestyle, functionality and how to best conserve body energy .
Built-in environments benefit from incorporating the wellbeing tactic of conserving energy. This strategy reduces the onset of fatigue. Clients that incorporate Energy Conservation Techniques (ECT) prevent illness and injury. This occupational science study shares successful outcomes for a group who implemented ECT through an OTs guidance. Below are four principles the UofM Inpatient Acute Care team endorses:
PACE Stop. Rest before you get fatigued. It is easier to recover your energy by avoiding to work until fatigued. Practice abdominal breathing during rest breaks. Inhale through your nose while expanding your belly and exhale through your mouth while relaxing your belly.
PLAN Before initiating an activity develop a plan. Include every detail. Include how much time is required, how much energy is necessary to perform the activity, and what equipment and materials are needed.
PRIORITIZE When the list of ‘things to accomplish’ is long, prioritize by most important and what may be postponed. Important tasks deserve prime energy fuel. Perform what remains on the list as energy levels allow. This lowers stress levels and reduces wasted energy worrying about what wasn’t accomplished.
POSITION Keep storage systems between eye and hip level. Reaching overhead requires more energy then stooping low. Frequently used things are best at mid-section height. For example: paper and pencil by the phone, reading material within reach of your reading chair, frequently used items on the counter top instead in the cupboard or drawers.