Pacing and the Art of Preventing Relapses

Is this you?

On a “good” day when your symptoms are low, you may be inclined to push yourself. A day or two later, you’ll probably find your symptoms have worsened. You relapse, recover, push and relapse again, creating a cycle of peaks and valleys in your energy and pain level. The rule of thumb is this:

The more you push yourself, the more you relapse.

What is pacing?

Pacing is the process of monitoring your energy level and restricting or expanding your activities accordingly. It sounds simple enough but in practice most people find it a bit tricky to master.

How do I get started?

Chronic pain forces you to get to know yourself in a deep and detailed way. When you begin pacing, it’s important to understand what your natural pattern of energy is. You’ll need to know when you are at your best, and when you are most tired. Are you a lark (an early riser) or an owl (more energy late in the day)? Are you prone to the midafternoon slump? Do you collapse after your evening meal?

Next, you’ll need to consider how this natural pattern has changed because of your condition. If you have always been a lark, is morning still your best time of day? Do you experience more energy dips or just more severe ones? You can use the Energy Level Assessment to get a detailed understanding of your current pattern.

What’s your strategy?

To make the most of your energy peaks and minimize the limitations of the valleys, you will need to be strategic about how you “spend” your “energy allowance”. A detailed strategy is provided here but these are the key pacing techniques you’ll want to use:

  • Know your limits
  • Plan, prioritize, prepare
  • Save some energy for later

How To Use This Info Sheet

Use this information to break the relapse cycle in combination with these other tools:

What are your thoughts?

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