I wrote a blog post on pacing almost a year ago now but a lot has changed in that time. In my previous post I described some days where I couldn't even sit upright, which was a little shocking to me as it was long enough ago that I have forgotten exactly how bad I used to feel. So I am also rather encouraged to have it in writing that I have come so far. It would appear that the pacing, amongst other things, has made a big impact.
Pacing is individual to everyone and so giving a guide for anyone who needs some advice would be difficult. Each person has different commitments. But here are some of my rules that I have learnt to live by, and have become almost natural to me now.
Know the warning signs. Having been ill for a while now I have gotten a better idea of the order in which symptoms appear. This may sound bizarre as they often just feel like always being there in a big rush but once you have gotten to a point where you have a little energy you realise which symptoms disappear first. For me, a sore throat and dizziness are signs that I need a little more rest that day. By the time I feel nauseous and am in pain I have way overdone it. I have talked to others who say the opposite though so maybe their individual to each person.
Plan ahead. Someone suggested to me that pre-resting (i.e. resting before activity) is better than post-resting and I think I would probably say that it is true, for me at least. If you know you have a big energy expenditure coming up, rest beforehand.
Wherever possible, sit down. Sounds a bit obvious I suppose but this was something I had to train myself to do. Sit down at every opportunity. Even on the bus when it's busy and everyone's glaring at you because you look young and fit, what do they know.
It's only 3 things but they are things that do involve some self awareness and changing of your mind set. But it is possible and every little part of energy that can be spared is useful.
God tells us to look after our bodies as they house the Holy Spirit and so I felt a bit liked I'd failed in this somehow as my body felt like it had been used past it's shelf life. But after a bit of thought, I know see resting and looking after my body as following this instruction. I would love to be getting really involved with church and evangelism but instead I will have to honour God by looking after myself, which is the best I can do with what I have been given. I have also been encouraged recently by a verse from 2 Corinthians which says
"We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves."
I definitely feel like a fragile clay jar and it reassures me to know that this does not mean that I can't go out and be God's ambassador because God is so much greater than I am and yet He lives in me in the form of the Holy Spirit who shines though. Also, God says that we have great power from him and so I don't have to rely on my own very limited strength.
Also, sometimes I feel that people assume that I am giving in to the CFS/ME or giving up and moping around by resting. I feel like I should not have to justify my actions (and this feeling may not even be accurate of others' opinions) but resting is the opposite of giving up. It is me managing my symptoms myself in the absence of medicine or physiotherapy. It is me taking control of my life again and accepting facts about my life that are unpleasant. In not resting, I deny and run away from the truth and in the process my body becomes weaker. Resting is a brave thing to do.