Tips to pace yourself
Once chronic descends upon your life, the word “pace” has a very different meaning. We used to laugh and just keep going, but now we pay the price with that kind of approach. Here I discuss some tips to help find a pace that works.
Just the very sound of the word “pace” – or anything with “pace” in it – automatically draws my mind to the little round metal thingy on my left side that thumps my heart from time to time and says, “hey, you big Goon … you’re supposed to be beating over there!” #pacemakerproblems
Life with chronic illness really does require that we pace ourselves each day, and this is irrespective of whether or not we have a piece of metal in our chest. So “pace” becomes a normal, often-used word in our vocabulary. And one we’d do well to pay attention to.
There’s no one recipe for pacing one’s self, and if your life is like my life, each day is different. And unpredictable. Oh, so unpredictable. But here are some tips that I have found helpful over the years. Maybe they will help you, too:
- Be reasonable. Give up the “I can do all the things I used to do” complex. That’s neither a smart nor effective way to be a CDP. Be reasonable in your self-expectations and honest that your to-do ability has changed from your pre-chronic days. Set a good example for your kids and others in this regard. Superman and Wonder Woman were make-believe for a reason.
- Build as much flexibility into your schedule as humanly possible. Don’t have must-do, hard appointment times and deadlines back-to-back in your daily planner, especially day after day after day. This leaves no room for emergencies and unexpected’s, and it will ruin your schedule with cancellations, which only perpetuate an already discouraging situation. Use the 80/20 rule; plan 80% of your time and leave 20% unplanned for the unexpected’s. If they don’t occur, then you’ve got an unexpected rest period, which is a nice blessing in your day.
- Rest times. Include periods of rest in your daily to-do’s. This should be part of the 80% of your day that is planned, not the 20% unplanned. I really have to work on this, rest doesn’t come naturally for me. But it is a must. In the end, 15 mins of rest time can translate to another 2 hours of work-time in your day. Have several back-to-back no-rest days, and you will pay the price, I promise. No compromise here.
- Medicine regimen. Don’t schedule important items on medicine days. The day after metho injections are the worst for me, I call them “metho-mornings.” Currently metho days are Wednesdays, so I avoid must-do appointments on Thursday mornings. Emergencies are the only things that pull me off this. I’m absolutely a stickler for it and it saves me a lot of cancellations. Another no-compromise step.
- Resist the urge to give in to the yucko’s. This is a tricky one because we need to know when to give in to the yucko’s, sometimes this is necessary. But I catch myself lying in bed until 9 am when I’ve been awake since 7:30 and if I’m honest, it’s just a bit of the lazy’s. So I now set myself a 20-minute lay there time, and then it’s up and at ‘em. I feel better both because I’m moving and limbering up, and I’m getting my day started, which helps me feel more accomplished and ahead of chronic. Sometimes a hot shower helps.
- Count your illness as a part-time job. This seems obvious once it’s spoken or typed out, but initially, this concept can be a bit elusive. From side effects of meds to core effects from disease, from doctor visits to pharmacy pickups, being sick takes a lot of time. Even just the time we know to schedule can be a suck on our calendar, let alone the “gotcha’s” that await us every week. Treating RA as a 10- or 15-hr/week part-time job helps me to carve out enough time to just be sick. More so, it helps me not over-commit myself which helps prevent cancellations and all the snags that go with that. I feel my RA affects fewer people around me when I commit to fewer things, and thinking of it as my part-time job helps me stay in the mindset of not over-committing.
There are other tips I use, but these are a few. What are some pacing strategies you guys use? Share a tip or two here on the blog –
Rock on, my fellow CDPs!