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Travel & Other Special Events

Pacing is a challenge during normal times, but can be especially difficult for non-routine events, which include vacations, holiday celebrations, moving and remodeling, having dinner guests or houseguests or even, for some people, leaving the house for a doctor's appointment or just dinner out.

Such special events create a double challenge if you have CFS and/or FM. First, they require more energy than normal daily life. For that reason, they can pull you outside your energy envelope, intensifying your symptoms.

At the same time, you may want to be more active than usual or feel pressured by others to be more active, a second potential cause for a relapse. How can you enjoy such events and avoid a relapse?

We have found the three strategies described below are helpful in meeting the challenge of special events.

The success story for this page describes the experience of a woman who used the strategies for a family visit. Previous visits had resulted in relapses that lasted several months. Using the three strategies, she experienced no relapse at all.
1) Take Extra Rest: Before, During and After

Perhaps the most widely-used strategy for making special events more successful is to get more rest than usual before, during and after the event. 

Store up energy by taking extra rest before the event; limit symptoms by taking extra rest during; and take whatever extra rest is needed afterwards. The amount of extra rest will vary from person to person and event to event; twice as much as usual is common.
2) Plan in Detail

The second strategy is to plan in great detail. If you are traveling, this may include planning your activities for each day of the trip, including rest breaks and alternate activities you can do if your energy level is not what you expect, and activities others can do without you. 

Depending on the severity of your condition, you might also arrange for a wheelchair or motorized cart in airports. If you are going to a family event, it might mean finding out the schedule ahead of time and deciding how much activity you will have.
Your activity level and role will have to be adjusted to fit your energy level. For example, instead of doing all the cooking for a holiday celebration, ask family members to each bring a dish. 

Or you might go to an event, but stay two hours, rather than the whole day or take periodic rest breaks. Travel can be made more doable by being less active than you used to be and by spending extra time resting.
3) Discuss Your Plans with Others

After deciding on your level of participation, discuss your plans with the other people involved in the event, so they know what to expect from you. You might also alert them to the possibility that you may need to cancel out or reduce your level of participation. 

If you discuss your limits and the unpredictability of symptoms with others ahead of time, you can reduce the chances for surprise or disappointment and create a climate of flexibility.
Two Special Event Worksheets

To assess your use of strategies for special events, click on the worksheet link in the box in the top right area above. To download and/or print a worksheet you can use to plan future special events, see the Logs, Forms & Worksheets page on the self-help program site.


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