“Never let the things you cannot do prevent you from doing the things you can” (John Wooden)
If you have any kind of chronic illness, chances are you will have heard of pacing. You might be familiar with the spoon theory (check out www.countingmyspoons.com ); you might be doing it without realising simply to get through your day; you might be a pacing ninja or you might be wondering what the benefits are and how you get started. Pacing is about acknowledging that you have a finite amount of energy on any given day, and that this amount of energy may vary from day to day. It helps you to live your life rather than crash and burn. It involves a bit of planning, but it gives you a sense of managing the chronic illness, rather than the illness controlling you. At the core of pacing is alternating activity with rest, and becoming aware of the activities that may deplete your energy more quickly than others. Imagine writing a story – if the chapter is action packed and fast moving, you will keep that chapter short. If the chapter is slower and drawn out, you might make it longer. The most important thing to remember is that your pacing will be as individual as you are! We have set out some tips to help you get started or just to pick and choose those that will be helpful to you.
The OutdoorCure Guide to Pacing
1) Take time to learn about you. Make note of the activities that deplete or cause you more pain than others. This will help you to plan what you can do in a day.
2) Do not use pacing as a tool to make you feel a failure. Pain and fatigue are variable from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. If your plan doesn’t go as you expected, take 5 minutes and re-plan. Be flexible and kind to yourself.
3) Take time to explore your rest activities too. It could be that lying down in bed is needed, it may be that colouring is an appropriate break for you. Experiment and try new things.
4) Say no when you need to, listen to your body – if your pain level is high, you need to focus on resting to bring that back down again. Remember you know your body best.
5) Get a pacing diary – this will help you to outline a plan and see visually what you have to do. This is a good way to check if you have allocated enough time for restoring.
6) Unlearn the completion compulsion: knowing when to stop is key to a good pacing strategy. Notice when the urge to push through is happening and choose to reserve that energy for something else. This is part of being kind to yourself.
7) Be mindful and approach tasks in a relaxed way – doing this will actually help you to use less energy on them. When we rush, we approach life as though we are under pressure and this burns through energy like nothing else. Consciously choose to slow down and notice what happens to your mood, positivity and energy.
We would love to hear your top tips for pacing in the comments below.
The OutdoorCure Team x