I think we all try to do more than we should, especially on our better days. No matter how many times we pay the price for that, we keep doing it, right? We really don’t want to admit, or give in to, our limitations. That’s why pacing is important with fibromyalgia.
Pacing allows us to slow down and live within the limitations our illness demands. It helps our lives be a bit more predictable and less stressed. A recent article in Psychology Today stated that “Pacing refers to spacing out your activities during the day so that you’re able to stay within the limits of what your body can handle without exacerbating your symptoms. Another way to think of it is that pacing is a way to keep you inside your “energy envelope” — the envelope that contains your energy stores for any given day.” Think about the spoon theory. If you use them all, you’ll be working at a deficit.
Pacing is setting boundaries, saying “no” when we need to, and understanding that if we don’t we will pay a price. That might be spending days in bed, calling out of work, and dealing with a potential FM flare. You know your personal limitations, and perhaps setting a realistic schedule might be helpful.
For me, this is what my pacing looks like (most of the time): My husband and I each do our own laundry. I go shopping with my husband only if I know I can handle it. I write every day, but I only do it a half-hour at a time. When I clean the bathroom, I do the sink one day, the toilet another day, and the shower yet another day. On the days that my fatigue or pain are high, then Netflix is my best buddy.
If you can, try to schedule your week. Make medical appointments for the hours in the day you usually are at your best. Pay attention to your mental exertion, and stop to rest and rejuvenate when needed.
I know we’ve all heard the term “pace yourself,” but with fibromyalgia that takes on a much more profound meaning. It’s either pace, or pay the price.