Learning To Pace Myself Has Changed My Life
Pacing is probably the most useful thing I have learned on my journey to live better with AxSpa, and with fibromyalgia too. I did not know anything about pacing before, because I did not have to use such skill! When I started to be ill, my stamina disappeared. I would waste my precious energy and burnt myself out doing things I used to do without planning. I would start things and would find myself not able to finish them on the same day. Then, it became clear that having a strategy to build up my stamina again, step-by-step, with control and patience, was a priority to enjoy life again aside of work and other duties.
Learning about pacing
I think I have learned a fair deal about pacing by attending self-management programs for people with chronic diseases. It seems to be useful across the broad for the management of many conditions. It is a valuable self-help tool for people to go back on track and get to do things within their comfort zone.
Pacing basically gave me back control over my life, a way to plan and decide what I can do each day with confidence and with a feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. It has made a huge difference for me to be able to do that. Slowly and steadily, I have been able to reach a good level of energy again so I could work, have hobbies, have a social life, and plan trips and holidays. Now I do it without realizing, pacing has become a new lifestyle habit for a better life!
My work as a Life Coach
Nowadays, the beauty of it is I get to share my experience about pacing with my work as a Life Coach! I work part-time for an organization called Thistle Foundation. I am a Health and Wellbeing Practitioner for their Wellbeing team.
We Practitioners provide coaching and support over the phone, online and in person, to help people develop strategies to cope with their situation and find their own path to recovery. I offer 1-2-1 appointments to patients who are referred to me by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. People can explore with me ways to improve the quality of their life according to their terms and their hopes for the future.
I also run self-management group sessions as part of my job
One topic we regularly discuss with people using our service is pacing. We have a whole chapter on it in our lifestyle management course. It has been fascinating to provide support and advice about pacing to people in need. With fatigue, for example, I have learnt not to attempt to power through as this can make symptoms worse and increase feelings of frustration and loss of control.
However, I have noticed that complete rest and doing nothing is also not particularly helpful. So, sticking to low-level activities, resting both my mind and body, and pacing my activity is key to allowing my body to recover.
This strategy can be challenging though, particularly if you are the kind of person who likes to get things done. This is where coaching can be really helpful: getting a bit of support to make the decisions that are right for you and help to manage the frustration that often accompanies a slow approach to recovery. I have certainly experienced that, patience was key, in order to get better at pacing myself and gradually doing a little bit more. That time and effort was worth the investment. It has changed my life and I hope it can be the case for many more people.
Some interesting reading about pacing:
How often do you have to cancel plans because of AxSpa symptoms?