Slowing down for me, is a continual process. I have a super speed mind and I’ve had to train myself, that just because I think quick doesn’t mean I should act so speedily. In fact, thinking less has been most rewarding. Feeling more and simply being has been at the heart of not only my health recovery, but in the foundations of my revised life.
It takes a great deal of discipline to pace, for some it may be easier than others. The inner critic has a lot to do with why we push beyond our boundaries rather than work within our limits, but that’s another blog.
I’ve found it far easier to use pacing with exercise and physical activity, than I have with moderating my mental activities, especially any that relate to work type tasks, which I have always found it hard to tear myself away from. Mainly because when I write, read, produce media projects etc, I’m so hyper focused that it’s hard to disengage. There can be perfectionism and a desire to finish something rather than stop and return to it another time.
I call it my ADHD self! It’s like putting a child in reigns but sometimes it’s like a massive inner tantrum getting them on and reminding myself that slowing down and taking adequate breaks will sustain my recovery. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I’m human!
Pacing is an important step in recovery for ME/CFS, it sounds simple yet it can take a lot of continal practice and comittment to changing your particular overall life rhythm.
A daily routine helps with managing your activites which you can build on over time, and this is something which has been easy for me to manage. Blocking your day into work related activites, (either actual employed work or house chores and other projects or studies), exercise, social, hobbies and leisure helps to pace and avoid too much of one thing.
I got good advice from a friend who had ME at the outset, she told me to drop at least one of the things I had in mind of doing for the day to avoid delayed fatigue and to start banking energy. For me it’s like dropping at least two or three things that my mind has in its sights, because my standards and goals, I realised have always been somewhat over-demanding. Additionally my pattern would be to keep on going regardless. Something that can be both useful and not so. I may have learned this one from my workaholic father who has been known to faint on a couple of rooftops in his lifetime, probably due to over-exertion.
Taking breaks and rests during walks or bike rides in the day have been staple to my routine. Twice daily mindfulness meditation and guided creative visualisation have given me great opportunity to balance myself. I’ll lie or sit down almost anywhere if I need to. When I first started being able to go along to the supermarket shopping trips again, which I was elated about, I’d sit down ontop of the palate of sugar bags! I couldn’t care what it looked like to be honest, I was just struggling to get around the store.
There has always been a tendency to rush at everything, so learning to slow down and do things in a more grounded way, with less adrenaline has been the fundamental key to my pacing.
For a long while I couldn’t wait to rush back to work, but I was in denial of how Ill I was, in fact, all along I’ve been having to keep waking myself up to the fact that I try to run before I can walk. If you are in a position where you don’t have to push yourself then don’t, it will only make recovery longer or even unobtainable.
Who’s setting the goals and the pace anyway? Us right! So lower the bar and make it easier on yourself.
It’s harder to pace yourself the more able you get, because your body is not physically stopping you anymore, or until you over do it. So this stage takes great discipline. Taking breaks during every task is a good way to view things.
Get proper rest and grade things appropriately during each stage you are at. It will get easier over time and when you combine your medical care, diet, alternative approaches and psychological work you’ll stabilise your recovery. Be kind to yourself!