Five Steps To Being Better At Pacing When You Live With Chronic Pain

If you have had chronic pain very long you know about having “good days” and having “bad days.”

Good days are when our plans run according to our schedule and we happily go about our day checking things off of our list. Bad days generally mean how much the pain gets in the way of daily activities and frustrates our plans.
Multiple bad days in a row can leave you struggling to complete even the simplest of tasks such as daily hygiene. Sometimes bad days can even affect showering and brushing teeth.
So, how do we keep the “bad days” away? It is a really simple idea but sometimes hard to manage for complex reasons individual to each person, but learning to pace yourself is a good tool to start with when living with chronic pain.
Even though I am positive pacing should always be the main tool in everyone’s Chronic Pain SELF-Management Toolbox (free printable below) , I struggle myself with pacing my own activities. And I, like most, pay for it with many days of accomplishing little in the life I want to live.
So, join me in resolving to do better at pacing daily activities because without pacing yourself, the good days can slowly disappear beyond recognition without some thoughtful intervening.
So, let’s think about pacing as a tool in our Chronic Pain Self-Management Toolbox. These types of tools are always available to us and cost nothing. What does it mean to pace yourself if you have chronic pain?
  • · Effective pacing yourself means that YOU, rather than your pain, decide how your day is planned.
  • · Effective pacing allows you to accomplish some activities every day instead of one “good” day and multiple “bad” days.

Pacing, in short, is taking a break BEFORE you need it throughout the day.

Becoming aware of our pain and how, when, and what it takes to escalate it to debilitating levels will aide in utilizing pacing as a tool. Here are a few steps to begin pacing your activities as a tool for self-care and self-pain management.

1. First, let’s check-in.

We need to have a plan for our day. A critical part of that plan is checking in with our bodies when we live with pain. Set a timer on your phone to remember to check-in if you get too busy. Or, if you already know 2 hours of sitting is your limit, set a timer for 1 ½ hour to eliminate pain overload. Simply take a break from the activity in some way that relaxes you and set a timer for self-care so you get back to work on your task afterward.
 

2. Break things down.

Does a job feel completely overwhelming and out of control? If so, breaking up a large job into smaller tasks will help you accomplish your larger goal. Determine your overall goal then break it down. When you have a list to check off activities you will see that you are accomplishing the things you want to do in life. Remember to take breaks between tasks that are relaxing and refreshing.
 

3. Work slower.

Slow really does win the race for people living with chronic pain. Work at a slower, less intense pace and you will get more done. Be deliberate with your time by investing in a planner. Schedule slower pace time frames with short rests in between.
 

4. Increase time in small increments.

You can add small increments of time to activities to find your stopping point for optimum feel-good days. When you find you overdo it, go back down to the previous time frame for the activity. You will be running at optimum speed in no time.
 

5. Change tasks frequently.

Another really overlooked chronic pain self-management tip is to change your task often and use different parts of the body throughout the day. Be creative throughout your day. Do things on your list that require you to sit for a short duration, then change to standing or walking activities, whatever your abilities allow. Remember to take breaks.
 
TIP: Try not to get in the practice of using your “good days” to play “catch-up” and push yourselves too hard to catch up on all the things you couldn’t do on days when the pain was overwhelming. This can also create a cycle of too much activity and no activity. Beware of this and always pace yourself.
Subscribe to Chronic Pain Life Coaching’s blog to receive a free Pain Self-Management Action Plan printable worksheet. Making an action plan gives you an advantage over your chronic pain. Take back control of your life today with one plan at a time.
Using the free printable form will help you reach your goals faster.

SUBSCRIBE BUTTON

Changing begins with thinking about what pain is and does in our bodies, not just reacting when the pain is excruciating. Having a reminder of your action plan can help you to be mindful of your daily self-care choices which will, I promise, lead to more “good days” than “bad days.”
I am always available to help you achieve a higher level of well-being and performance in life and work particularly when change is hard. I will help you develop skills and use tools to make sustainable change for the good.
Book a free 30-minute consultation today. This discovery meeting is a chance for us to practice some of our core values: listen, learn, and serve. Let’s get to know each other.

BOOK NOW

Words For Healing

I have missed writing, but when I am doing advocacy work, I seem to fall in head first and get lost. It seems like everything is urgent because it takes so long to finally see the results of your hard work.  You can hardly tell that you are making any difference. It really is hard work to go in with credible information.  I applaud anyone that has made the trip to visit their elected officials and given them an education on what the chronic pain community is going through these days.

I have taken to twitter encouraging everyone in the chronic pain community to get their voices heard by reaching out to their legislators.  I had a few people that said they were too scared to speak out because of retribution, ie: they will lose access to the small amount of medicine that they need to be able to function.

I completely understand the fear in speaking out. I feel the same. Knowing that people are afraid to speak out compels me to be the voice for them also.  For someone that has no other legal and affordable options than their current opioid medications, it must be agonizing everyday counting their pills and worrying if this is the last bottle before the pain is unbearable. That breaks my heart.

If you decide to go to your representative, here’s a link to find out who you should contact and how to reach them.  If you want more information about advocating for the chronic pain community, contact me. There is plenty that can be done from home.

I also began a writing group last week.  There are about 8 of us and we are made up of 8 different perspectives, so I’m loving that.  So, far it has been mostly timed free flowing writing. I’m excited to see what the future groups will hold.  We are all looking for different things from the group.

I am thankful for the gift of writing.  Being about to express myself through words is healing.  I know most of you that are reading are writers also.  Do you stick to one style of writing or do you use different mediums – free write, poetry, prose, spiritual, song lyrics, blog post- to convey your feelings?

I believe that what every you write, whether it’s a tweet or a post, you should edify others. Honor them.  I am appauld by the comments I read on twitter and facebook; the unnecessary meanness in the words people type anonymously behind their computer screen. I do not understand why people are so mean.

But let’s be different.  Today, make a positive tweet about your life with your chronic illness.  Publish a uplifting post about another’s triumph over struggle.  Just put some love out there to combat the hate.

Much Love & Many Prayers,

Cindy