Pacing. Does it help emotional and physical pain?

Will pacing help you manage life with a chronic illness

I’m in Pain. The housework can wait!!!

Pacing helps sufferers of chronic illness
As a sufferer of chronic illness. There will be days when you haven’t got the energy to lift a spoon let alone a hoover.

Are you like me when you have these days?

Do you constantly tell yourself the housework can wait? Convincing yourself that you will not touch the dishes. To only cave in a few hours later, ending up cleaning not only the dishes but the whole house. In absolute pain.

Is this you too?

Do you feel guilty that you can’t keep up with the housework, well, in fact, life?

Guilt is worse than pain

Gosh, this is me! And this guilt has become worse the last couple of years as I have teenagers and a toddler, and a family of five accumulates a lot of daily mess. I hate the mess cluttering the house, it really makes me feel uneasy if its left for the day. The mess seems to make my symptoms feel worse (possibly all in my mind).

One struggle for me is that some days I’m totally wiped out due to issues I have with my immune system and my hormones. But the biggest of all, especially of late, is my arthritic pain. I’ve had hip and back pain for a number of years but it’s a lot worse after having my baby, the pain at times is excruciating. And the worst of the pain is during the night and in the morning. Not good when you’re a morning person.

Are you a morning person or night owl

I’m more energetic emotionally and physically in the morning. But although my body feels stronger in the morning energy-wise, there’s one area of my body that need some time to wake up.

Yes, my back and hip.

And this is the time I like to do my housework because I’m more alert in my mind and I know if I leave it for later it won’t get done.

So I do what chronic illness sufferers are told not to do. I will push through the pain and complete the work. Yes, I know, very naughty of me.

And yes, I’m physically shattered once it’s completed, but feel totally elated that my home is tidy, it feels like I’ve won the 100-metre sprint at the Olympics, the boost to my mental health is immense. But physically this is not good.

In the reverse, if there are days that I’m in pain. I won’t do my housework. And I’m miserable. I’m in pain physically, and in pain emotionally too. I’ll ask hubby and my children to do it. But I’m still not satisfied. As it’s not done to my liking.

Is this you too?

If it is. You and I need to change.

Is it worth us getting stressed? Does this help many of us? I’m quite sure this only adds to our issues with chronic diseases. We need a mindset change and we need to slow down and accept those times when we can’t do things and accept help.

You and I need to remove some of the pride.

What we could try is pacing.

Pacing, what is it?

I’ve been coming across this term a lot lately on blogs. So it’s not just the two of us experiencing this.

Essentially, pacing is recommended for us chronic illness sufferers to avoid overdoing it.

It’s recommended that we.

•Create to-do lists.
•Create not-to-do lists. Things you must not do.
•Do one activity at a time
•Space activities throughout the day (one I need to work on).
•Set timers. Do jobs in 5-10 minute bursts (instead of cramming everything in an hour)
•Schedule rests in between jobs.
•Schedule coffee and nap breaks. I’ve seen a suggestion of having a cup of coffee when tired followed by a 15-minute nap, the caffeine takes effect 20 minutes later making you more alert when you wake (I’d need to master falling asleep after a coffee, but could work for you if you can sleep easily)
•Try meditation and relaxation techniques to rest the mind and body.

Creating Habits

In essence, pacing is a fantastic way of balancing things. It involves building up a schedule of habits which could help lots of people.

For me, this can be difficult, as I have to work around my family’s schedules, which can be top heavy in the mornings and afternoons for my teenagers. And top heavy during the daytime for my 1-year-old. This is possibly the case for you too.

So we have to find that balance and prioritise a schedule that suits our health and family needs. For me, no matter how much pain I’m in, during the morning I have to sort out my children so they’re ready for school (I also have a child with additional needs who needs my assistance). So there are no ways of pacing those morning activities.

There are pros to pacing

The pros are having more energy and possibly less pain for the day. Sticking with a concrete plan and spacing out activities seems to conserve energy, allowing us to be more productive throughout the day. In reverse to cramming it all in before 9 am and having zero amount of energy all day and increasing pain throughout the day.

There’s cons to pacing

But the frustration of pacing can be difficult if you have a busy life. And let’s face it, some of us enjoy busyness, like me, you may enjoy achieving goals, not achieving them can make you feel worse.

This, unfortunately, is the other side of pacing. The frustrations. How can we pace things in our busy world with unpredictable family events that happen on a daily basis? This makes pacing very difficult to schedule.

Let’s give it a go

With all this said, I’m willing to give this a go. Are you?

Maybe we can space out the activities over an extra hour and see how this goes. As with everything, start small, look at the time of day more intense for you. If it’s the morning and you tend to complete everything in an hour add an extra 30 minutes, allot specific amounts of time for each activity and time slots for rest in between.

Let’s see if we can conquer this one. Hopefully our health will thanks us for it.

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