Managing activity levels (pacing and prioritising)
People with chronic pain are aware that doing too much can lead to pain, and may try to protect themselves and their bodies by resting and doing very little/nothing. This is understandable but is not often the best for our bodies. Not doing things can lead our bodies to feel less robust, and can result in boredom and depression which can make the pain more difficult to deal with.
Conversely, some people stay active and push themselves till they can physically do no more, often battling through pain to complete a task. This may lead to an initial feeling of accomplishment, but soon enough fatigue takes over causing worse pain and needing to rest for longer.
The solution to this dilemma is to find a balance. You can make a big difference to your pain levels by getting to know how much you can do comfortably before causing a flare-up of your pain. You can then gradually increase the amount you can do over time. This is known as Pacing and is a powerful tool and can help you to build yourself up to doing more and more without experiencing flare-ups. Paving can be applied to all kinds of tasks: decorating, gardening, office work etc.
Pacing: how to
Set a baseline. Work out how long you can perform a task for without experiencing a flare up and then gradually increase the amount of time
Remind yourself to stop using post-it notes it set a timer
Spread a job over a number of days/weeks
Challenge previously held high and often unhelpful standards: ask yourself “is this worth having a flare up’