How to recognise when your energy levels are running low

7 Signs that You’re Running Out of Spoons

June 27, 2019 by 

One frustrating thing about energy limiting chronic illnesses like ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Lyme disease, is that energy levels can fluctuate from one day to the next. Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory has helped many people understand the concept of rationing out your energy by relating an energy unit to a spoon, but what happens on those days when something is affecting your spoon count and you haven’t realised it yet?

There are 7 things I look out for as warning signs that my energy is running lower than usual

  1. Feeling hungry all the time

One of the things that I’ve noticed can be a good indicator that my energy is lower than I think it is, is feeling hungrier than usual, and eating not really helping that feeling. I think my body still relates fatigue with lack of fuel so tries to tell me to eat when my energy is low. The problem isn’t with the fuel though it’s with the engine not being able to use it properly. When I’m managing my energy well, I don’t get that ‘anxious to eat feeling’ that comes when my energy is running out.

  1. Noticing effort

How much effort you have to put into something is a great sign of whether your energy is flowing easily or not. I aim to do everything I do as effortlessly as possible so that when it becomes more difficult to be effortless, I know that my energy is dropping. I generally use effort as an indicator that either my energy is running low or that I’m using my energy ineffectively.

  1. Feeling pressured or emotional

I often find that a sense of pressure is also a sign that I haven’t really got the resources to do what I’m trying to do. On some days even something as simple as taking a shower can feel like a stress or a pressure. When this happens, I know I’m having a low energy day. That feeling of having to pressure yourself to get something done is a great tip off that the spoons you need for it just aren’t there!

When my spoons are really low and I’m nearing a crash I sometimes feel really close to tears for no apparent reason. This is another sign for me that I’m overtired and I need to cut right back.

  1. Feeling better when you know you shouldn’t

Sometimes getting low on energy triggers the adrenaline response which can actually make it seem like we have more energy. If you can suddenly do things that would normally be a stretch at a time when you know that it’s unlikely that your energy is good, then it’s likely you’re in adrenaline mode. This means you’ll be on emergency energy production and there’s going to be a price to pay!

  1. Mind racing or talking fast

Another indication that you’ve already switched into adrenaline mode, and may be running on empty, is a racing mind. When I inadvertently switch to adrenaline to get me through something that I don’t really have the energy for, I also find myself talking really fast. When I notice these signs, I know I have to take actions to calm myself down and then rest before I crash!

  1. Word finding getting worse

Brain fog is another sign that my spoons are pretty low. And one of the early warning signs is that I have more trouble than usual finding my words and finishing my sentences. I have quite a bit of difficulty with this anyway, but when it’s every other sentence I’m struggling with I know I’m in trouble.

  1. Can’t think any more

Sometimes, if I get carried away doing some mental task that I enjoy, I suddenly find myself at a point where I just can’t think any more. Once I’m at this point, I know I have to rest, in fact I have no choice in the matter, but it’s a sure sign that I’m running low on spoons and I need to be careful how I spend them for the rest of the day.


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