Life With Chronic Illness and the Importance of Pacing Techniques


Moderation is something where we learn about this pain, fatigue and life balance. It is about pacing and limits. It is also about still managing to do things we want to do in our lives. For example, I have a family event coming up this Sunday and I want to go to it, so I will. I will pace myself and I will plan for a migraine that may happen and for the pain that also may become worse while I am out and about. I will make sure not to exceed my limits. Then, I also scheduled the next day off from work because due to the extra fatigue and expending of energy, I always account for one recovery day. Again, another pacing technique.

This is also used on vacations. I account for a recovery day when I arrive, and I account for recovery when I return. The way I see it is just moderation in all things. I do events and activities but I may not be there for as long, and I may not be as socially active as other people. I take the time to recover and de-stress. I actively do things to de-stress, like meditation. Society is the hare and I am the tortoise. I will, and do, turn down things I know will exceed my limits in pain or fatigue – or if there is no recovery time. And I am fine with that. Pacing is very important to chronic illness management. And I feel so much better when I pace.

I know isolation. I know “hermiting.” I know not doing anything because I was in pain and doing things would aggravate it. I know how this leads to can’t-ing ourselves right out of things we want to do…but don’t have the energy or feel it will trigger pain so we decide just not to do it. I’ve been there. And in the end, you just don’t do anything as a result.

I do it. I think many of us do it. Here is the warning: I “hermited” for a few years. More than a few when my pain wasn’t being managed. And it isn’t good for a person, even an introvert. We need to get out and about once in a while and socialize.So sometimes we have to get out of that comfort zone a little and find ways to engage more in the world.

Here are some things I do:

1. Go for walks (get me out of the house).

2. Coffee with my mom.

3. Coffee with a an old co-worker.

4. Game night with friends.

5. Karaoke night.

6. I did paint night one night. Going to try that again. It was a blast.

7. Getting together for dinner, or shopping with my mom.

8. Family events.

9. Fires pits gatherings at our house with friends and/or our neighbors.

This weekend I plan on going to a fire and BBQ with friends in the city. And next weekend to my uncle’s 50 anniversary party event. So in the beginning, I was doing nothing. What helped was a little pain management. Then some acceptance, like having awareness that I’ll be at pain at home as well. I’ll have pain either way. As long as I go prepared I can enjoy myself. And by enjoying myself, I get rid of that sense of isolation and I boost my mood. I don’t need a lot of social contact being an introvert. Just a little and quality time, not quantity for me. When I go out, I get:

1. Decrease in isolation.

2. Boost to mood.

3. A great time and laughs.

4. Visiting people I enjoy being around.

5. Doing things I enjoy.

6. De-stressing.

7. Taking my mind off things.

I started really slow. I was just initially going for coffee with mom every couple of weeks or so. Just to get out of the house, which was starting to get to me. I  slowly added to it from there. And going for walks, also to get me out of the house and my initial exercise program.

To do similar things, it depends on your pain, fatigue and comfort zone. It likewise depends on the activities. Sometimes people invites me to concerts I’d love to go, but I can’t go. Migraines can’t handle the noise and lights. They’re just not something I can do. But a game night? Yes, I can do that. Or movie marathon. Or a small pub karaoke session, I can handle that. Going out for coffee or inviting someone to my place, or inviting a few people over for a fire at my place is also something mellow I enjoy. Going to a loud, packed bar or club? Nope. Tried that one night with a live band. Migraine in less than three seconds and it was a bad one, so off I went. So, it depends on the activities to engage in.

You have to know when to say no or what to suggest. Also, sometimes you should meet new people. When you hermit for years? Not many people stick around, I’ll tell you that. We had to meet new people to hang out with. Two introverted people meeting new people? Hard stuff, man. But we did. Slowly but surely, and it was worth it to me. It was valuable to do. It made me feel connected and engaged with the world again.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: PhenomArtlover


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

brain and heart wearing superhero capes and pointing at each other

Coping With a Cyclical Illness

The “invisible” disease I was born with is what they characterize as cyclical: “occurring in cycles; recurrent.” Right now after my last neurosurgery, where a benign tumor was removed, I am considered in remission. The doctors have even gone as far as saying I am “cured.” They also told me this in 2006, after my [...]
woman holding brush and loose hair in hands

The Emotional Impact of Losing My Hair

I’m not sure why. Why it’s so emotionally difficult every single time it happens, but it is. And it never gets easier. Every time I wash my hair and have handfuls of it remain behind in my hands, tangled in knots between my fingers, my stomach drops. Every. Single. Time. It’s been happening, to varying degrees, for [...]

35 All-Too-Relatable Daily Thoughts of a Spoonie

Here are some of the common thoughts I have regarding having an autoimmune disease: 1. “Do I have to get up?” 2. “My bones hurt. How can bones feel pain?” 3. “Omneprazol before food…” 4. “I don’t feel like breakfast…” 5. “No Facebook, I don’t want to see photos of me before the prednisone.” 6. [...]
two women talking on a park bench

When Chronic Pain Makes It Difficult to Talk to People

I’m generally an amiable person and I love a good conversation. Before I got sick a few years ago, I was definitely a chatterbox and could speak on almost any topic, ranging from literature to politics. I loved talking and I still do in the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, the “best of circumstances” don’t happen [...]