Why Is Pacing So Hard? And One Simple Technique to Make It Easy

Picture of woman who doesn't like pacing to manage her Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Taking breaks when you don’t want to is hard.

“I hate pacing!”

It didn’t take long after we had begun the discussion part of the San Francisco Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Self Help group meeting until a woman started railing passionately against pacing:

“I know I should use pacing, but if I just lived my life in the confinements and limits of my illness, my life would no longer be worth living anyways. Sure, it hurts me not to take breaks, but I believe that this life force in me, that just wants me to be active, is a good thing, and I shouldn’t repress it by pacing myself too much.”

All of us in the room could sympathize. Pacing is hard!  It is frustrating when—despite our fatigue—we got ourselves into cooking a healthy meal, cleaning our house, or making a shopping list and we have to stop again after only a few moments of flow, because otherwise we’d over-exhaust ourselves and exacerbate our symptoms.

Personally, although I consider myself functionally fully recovered, the one part of my life that I still notice myself complain about is that I have to pace myself by taking intermittent breaks throughout my day (or the Thanksgiving dinner).

Do the following thoughts, which go through my head when I coax myself into a twenty-minute rest, sound familiar?

“When I rest I have to face all of the unpleasant sensations in my body, I’d rather drown them out by eating some more turkey.“

“It’s so much fun with my family. I won’t be able to stand the loneliness in my room when I leave the thanksgiving dinner table.”

Or on days that are not holidays:

“When I rest it’s going to be terrible, I’ll lose all the great ideas that I just had and wanted to act on.”

“I can’t rest because I’m so into what I’m currently doing that if I stop now, it will take me forever to get back into the flow of doing it. “

The above thoughts hint at why pacing is so hard. So how do you make it easy?

Although I haven’t completely “solved” the problem of pacing, over the last five years I have discovered several ways to make it a lot easier. I have to admit that, even when I use these techniques, I don’t always enjoy the process of stopping. However my techniques are good and enjoyable enough, so that at least, I no longer avoid pacing. This is a BIG DEAL: I mentioned in my previous article how important pacing is for healing in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I believe it is important to make pacing fun enough, so that we no longer avoid it, but make a rock-solid commitment to actually doing  it.

Here is a simple, three-step process that helped me in overcoming my aversion to pacing: [Read more…]

Could This Tool Double Your Energy When You’re On The Computer?

Inspirational image from Stillness Buddy

A refreshing image from Stillness Buddy

For someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia,  a computer can be an exciting and informative window to the outside world that allows you to transcend your physical limitations.

From your home, even lying on your bed, you can connect with friends and family via Skype or Facebook and find out everything you need to know about recovering from CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia. Speaking for myself, a morning on Skype with my family in Germany is often more fulfilling than hanging out in person with a bunch of friends at a bar here in Davis.

At the same time, computers can suck the life out of us. We have only so much energy in one day and that energy might be drained after 10, 30, or 90 minutes in front of a screen.

One problem is that even when we realize that we’re tired it’s hard to take a break because we are so captivated by the wonders of the world that we can access through our laptop.  Yet we need to take a timeout, or else we might burn ourselves out for the rest of the day or even the week.

Stillness buddy can help you benefit from your computer without getting trapped by it. [Read more…]

How To Escape the Agony of Agitated Exhaustion

Lying on my bed with my mind running a million miles per hour, my agitations made it impossible to find the rest my body needed so badly. The agitated exhaustion I suffered from since I had first come down with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was unbearable.

If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia, then you’re likely to have experienced agitated exhaustion firsthand.

Woman Suffering from Agitated Exhaustion

Woman Suffering from Agitated Exhaustion

Erica Verrillo and Lauren Gellman explain the term in their book Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide. “[Agitated exhaustion] is often described as a ‘tired and wired’ feeling. A person with this type of fatigue does not feel sleepy, although the desire for rest is overwhelming.”

Agitated exhaustion filled my life with terror. My mind was occupied by thoughts such as, “Damn it. This is hell on earth. I need to get out of this.” I was worried that my girlfriend would leave me. My worst concern was that no matter what I did I would never be able to enjoy life again and that I would eventually end up committing suicide, filling my family’s hearts with deep sorrow.

Before I had I suffered from agitated exhaustion, I would have just lay down and deeply rested when I was tired, but now I was haunted by a million thoughts that made me feel worse. Trying to distract myself by reading didn’t work either: prior to coming down with ME/CFS reading would have calmed me and infused me with a sense of peaceful magic, but now the thought of picking up a book alone was enough to worsen my mental exhaustion.

Do You Sometimes Feel As If There Is No Way Out?

Perhaps you feel as I did. You just don’t know how to get out of the vicious cycle of agitated exhaustion. Just like I was, you may be longing for rest and healing – but it seems as if there is no way out.

I did not feel like there was much hope, but even in my despair I kept up the search. It was on the Phoenix Rising site that I read about the Gupta Amygdala Retraining Programme which promised to give me the tools and inspiration to accelerate my recovery from ME/CFS employing my mind and emotions. I couldn’t possibly imagine that it would work, but since Phoenix Rising’s Cort Johnson shared his positive experiences of the program on his blog, I decided to give it a try. [Read more…]

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