I tend to try to do everything all at once when I’m feeling good. And then once I’m physically and emotionally drained, I drop in exhaustion. I’m trying to learn how to do a little every day, even if I feel great or crappy. 1 month ago
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(The picture above shows Woody Guthrie’s resolutions. Folk on!)
At New Year, Steve suggested we do fortune telling. He would write down answers on paper torn into ribbons, and I would do the same. Then we would meet up and ask questions. He’d take answers from my pile, and I’d take answers from his.
Steve was eager to know what the nature of God is and if ze exists (ze: a gender neutral pronoun), the meaning of life and other Big Questions.
I said, “Err, probably lower your expectations.”
We took it in turns to put the different piles of answers into my hand-sized cauldron, and shook it until a folded square fell out.
The first question I asked was about my goals. New Year stokes ambition, and I was stressed about the conflict between what I want to do and what I can do (a common stress, I imagine). As ever I want to improve my health, I want to move out, I want to see Joe more, I want to be more social, I want to start to exercise, meditate, and indulge in hobbies on the side.
It is like playing Jenga with your energy. Each activity removes several blocks and you can’t do everything without your little tower falling to pieces. (That is a damn good metaphor, by the way.) If you want to improve your health (I do!) then there’s a lot you have to let go of.
I asked the cauldron.
I shook it.
The paper squares jostled.
Steve shook his percussion egg to encourage the universe or whatever.
A square fell out. It said, Play with poetry.
Perfect. I set it at the top of my 43Things page.
A few weeks later, I came across a brilliant proverb that tied my most topical concerns together (managing stress and managing activity). It’s an Amish proverb: Hurry less, worry less. I want to make it my motto for the year.
It’s a funny thing, naming goals. The name can direct your intention. At first I thought I’d call this Hurry less, worry less, then perhaps Slow down, or boringly Pace myself.
I settled on the emphasis of pacing, because for me (and everyone else in the M.E. community) pacing has strong connotations with health and recovery. I had been talking to Joe about what his physiotherapist advised about exercise (lift a small weight once a day, and two weeks later try lifting it twice, etc). I have to admit that my pacing style is erratic, and push myself more than I should.
I lose patience with pacing as it can often be tedious and make your whole lifestyle feel medicalised.
However, I really liked what the physiotherapist said and (in the spirit of luck and playfulness) thought I’d have a go. I started with three lifts a day, and I’m now lifting four. I am extremely pleased with that hopefully will be able to keep adding lifts for a while before I plateau.
To help pace myself I have been using http://todoist.com/
Everyday I log in and work through my goals of the day:
Meditate twice for ten minutes
Write in my journal
Write in my gratitude diary
Write someone a message
There is a weekly prompt to write someone a card or a letter, but I have been struggling with that. It remains more of a suggestion than as something To Do. (Because I like ticking things off I also have a goal to open my window, listen to music, and every other day read poetry).
My days have felt fuller, but I have to stop from trying to convince myself to push and add more things. (Don’t hurry, don’t worry…) 15 months ago
I have been doing a lot of reading about pacing techniques so I can maximize my energy and have the highest quality of life possible without triggering additional relapses.
I usually just work my way down my to do list and rest in between things. While this gives me some productive days, it also prolongs the push-crash cycle. If I can identify my baseline, the level of activity where I have no increased symptoms, then maybe I can stabilize myself and then slowly build on that. It may take me a long time to determine my baseline, but I am going to take it one step at a time so as not to overwhelm myself.
The first thing I am trying is identifying my limits one area at a time. Twice in the past week I have lost track of time and spent an hour on my feet, after which I felt nauseous and weak. Even after resting, my standing tolerance was lowered once I overdid it. I need to do some experimenting, but I imagine my limit will be no more than 30 minutes.
Another principle of pacing I read about was the 50% rule: do only half as much as I think I can. I have terrible awareness of time, and I frequently think that I can do more than I actually can or that it will take less time than it actually will. So I think that gradually incorporating this principle will go a long way in conserving my energy. 23 months ago
I have a medical appointment in Baltimore next week, and my family decided that while we are out there, we might as well do the tourist thing. We are bringing my wheelchair, and my family knows my need to pace myself, take rest breaks, and conserve my energy, but it will be challenging not to push myself and try to cram everything into the few days we have there.
We leave mid-day tomorrow until next Tuesday…wish me luck in pacing while being out of my regular environment and routine! 23 months ago
One of the things I want to focus on this summer is developing a keener sense of my limits and using that knowledge to pace myself better.
I discovered a fantastic site that has a wealth of information in the articles section on how to pace oneself, among other things. I plan to try using the activity log to help me look for patterns and correlations over time. 23 months ago