How to Feel Better Today: Pacing for CFS

man taking a pacing break
Do you know that old doctor’s joke?

It goes like this:

Patient: Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this.

Doctor: Then don’t do that!

Ha. Ha.


I like this joke not only because it’s a bit funny, but also because it contains some truth about how simple medicine is at times. There are all these great inventions in medicine, but often the best solution is to just not do what exacerbates our symptoms.

This is especially true in the case of ME/CFS, as there is no proven medical cure for the condition.

Just like the joke, pacing, a self-help technique for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is also based on the idea that we shouldn’t do what exacerbates our symptoms.

Furthermore, as there are many activities that people with ME/CFS can do for a few minutes before they begin to trigger symptoms, pacing also means that we do activities only for as long as they don’t aggravate our symptoms.


As I’m creating this week’s lesson—researching material, making connections in my mind, and typing away on my computer—I only type for thirty to ninety minutes at a time. Then I switch to another activity or rest, because otherwise I would trigger a headache and mental exhaustion.

I used to do even smaller writing intervals, five to fifteen minutes of writing, when I had not yet gotten better.

Why you want to learn how to pace yourself

According to two large surveys completed by reputable patient organizations in England and Norway, pacing is considered the most helpful intervention for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 96% of the surveyed CFS patients found the intervention helpful.  According to those patient surveys, nearly everyone benefited from pacing—and I believe you will too.

How you can try pacing right now

While you work your way through this week’s e-course lesson, you have an opportunity to practice pacing immediately:

Only read this lesson for as long as it doesn’t aggravate your symptoms. Once you notice a light worsening of your symptoms, stop what you’re doing and rest or switch to another activity.

You’ll notice that it’s not that easy, so please forgive yourself if you have difficulty doing it. There are many techniques to make it easier and you’ll learn about them soon.

Meet pacing’s biggest advocate

There is no better-suited man in this world to teach you about pacing than Bruce Campbell.

Bruce Campbell recovered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome without using any medical treatment, but by using pacing as an essential element of his recovery regime.

While he worked on his own recovery, he also helped his support-group peers to getting better. Eventually, he developed a self-help course, which, today, is one of the most reputable CFS self-help courses in the world.

Rather than me repeating what he has already explained beautifully in his course, I’d like to only give you a quick overview of his introductory lesson on pacing and then send you over there to get his goodness firsthand (no worries, it’s free!).

Introduction to pacing & finding your limits

In his first lesson on pacing , “Finding Limits: The Energy Envelope,” (the link to this lesson is at the bottom of this section) Campbell describes the problems associated with living our lives in a push and crash cycle and explains how we can break out of it using pacing. He introduces a number on concepts to illustrate how much activity we can engage in each day without aggravating our symptoms.

Out of his five concepts, I like the “energy envelope” and “marbles in a bowl” concepts the best. You may want to read only the sections on those topics to save some of your energy (or save some of your marbles, as fans of the marbles in a bowl concept would put it). You can identify the beginning of a section easily with the help of the sub-headlines.

Next, Campbell guides us through finding our activity limits in each area of our lives. He also gives an interesting example of finding limits by sharing what his limits were when he was ill.

Before you dive into his article, please download the following two worksheets first. You’ll have an opportunity to fill them in as you work your way through his lesson.

  1. Envelope Log
  2. Energy Envelope Form. – While Campbell refers to this form in his article, he doesn’t provide a link to it, so it’s easiest for you to download it here ahead of time.

Armed with these forms, I send you off to your adventure to mastering pacing. Fare well! (and don’t forget to pace yourself along the way :).

Click here to access Campbell’s life-changing first lesson on pacing.

Extra level of support to master the big teaching of pacing

While pacing is effective in helping you reduce your symptoms and regain control over your life, it is also one of biggest teachings that you’ll need to master on your path to optimum health and happiness.

To keep it as easy for you as possible for you, we’ll devote two lessons of this course to mastering it. This will allow us to cut it down into smaller steps and make it easier to implement into your everyday life.

With two weeks of time, I think we’ll be able to get a good handle on mastering the art of pacing. So that you can use this exciting self-help technique to change your health and well-being for the better.

Best to your health,
Johannes' Signature


If you’ve got here without being subscribed to the free CFS Recovery Project E-Course, you’re missing out. This is lesson #5 on how to reach your maximum health and happiness potential if you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia. If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to learn more about it.

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