Tips on Pacing when you Live with Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness, you soon learn it flares up mostly when you overdo it. The key problem is that every day the level of activity before overdoing it can vary drastically.

I have been trying to remind myself to pace but it can be especially hard when I’m having a good day. On those days I just want to do everything but I know I will pay for it down the line.

Pacing is a term used in the chronic illness community meaning to pace your activities and time. Basically taking breaks, doing things slower than you normally would and just being more aware of what overdoing it means each day.

It sounds a lot easier than it actually is. I’m the kind of person who likes to get everything done and to help others before I even think about what I need. But I am learning this does not go down well with my body.

Pacing means I may get less done in one day but I’m much more productive in the long term. It helps me manage my flare ups so that I don’t overdo it in the first place.

It is a work in progress with me. I’m still learning my limits and to rest more often, but it’s getting easier to do as time goes on.

I don’t make daily to-do lists anymore as I used to either feel bad when I didn’t finish it, or would get through the list by any means, completely ignoring pacing. Instead I make a priority list that I add to and remove tasks I have completed. It puts a lot less pressure on myself to complete everything but still allows me to have goals (I also won’t remember the tasks if I don’t write them down).

When I know I’m going to be busy, I will plan to rest the day before and on the day have set breaks where I can rest as well. Basically planning is absolutely essential to ensure you don’t do too much.

Of course sometimes doing too much is inevitable and pacing can make you feel guilty and sad that you cannot do things how you used to. But it has also taught me to admire the smaller things a lot more. Since I have slowed down, I now notice things I never used to and it has helped me see life from a different perspective.

I now take my time to make sure each task is completed to the best of my ability and I manage my time a lot better.

Some days pacing can mean taking a whole day to rest if I have a big event coming up and other times it is simply taking my time and having regular breaks.

Pacing is learning to live with our limitations and work around them to still get the most out of life. It is never going to be perfect and you will still have flare ups but pacing is a great technique once you have gotten over the emotional impact of reducing the amount you used to do.

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2 comments

  1. I went through the whole ‘pacing’ thing first when I was referred to my pain management therapist, and you’re right, it’s not as easy as it sounds! I found it incredibly frustrating at first, and it still frustrates me to have to do it now, but it is better in the long term. I agree with planning being important, though at the same time, with my health so unpredictable any plans often go out the window so it’s learning to be flexible too. I also try for a rest day scheduled before and after a day where I know I need to do something bigger than usual. Great post, Bethan!
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for always being so supportive of my posts! It’s great to know we are not alone and we have a virtual community xx

      Liked by 1 person

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