Text Size
Additional Strategies

Many people with CFS and FM make use of some or all of the following additional pacing strategies.


Pay Attention to Time of Day

Most people with CFS and FM find they have better and worse times of the day. For some, mornings are good, while others perk up later in the day. It’s likely you can get more done, without intensifying your symptoms, by changing when you do things, so that you use your best hours for the most important or most demanding tasks. 

One person in our program wrote about exercise, "If I walk in the evening, I can make it around two blocks, but three has me collapsing. Early in the day, I can do three or more. I have a window between 8 and 11 in the morning that is best for most activity, both mental and physical."

A person with brain fog who was studying for a professional exam found that she could read for twice as long and remember what she read much better if she studied during the afternoon, her best time. Experimenting with time of day enabled her to increase her study time greatly while also increasing her comprehension and thereby helping her pass the exam.
Control Sensory Input

Many people with CFS and FM find their concentration is affected by having too much sensory input, especially light and sound, or experiencing input from multiple sources at the same time. The solution: focus on one thing and simplify your environment.

For example, you may have a better understanding of what you read if your turn off the TV while reading or move to a quiet place. If noisy restaurants bother you, try visiting during non-peak times. For more, see Sensory Overload: Sources and Strategies, one of the most popular articles on the self-help program website.
Keep Pleasure in Your Life

Living with a chronic condition means experiencing ongoing discomfort and frustration. Pleasurable activities reduce frustration and stress, distract you from your symptoms and give you things to look forward to. For all these reasons, enjoyable experiences make it easier to live within your limits.

Examples include taking a bath, having a conversation with a friend, listening to or playing music, seeing a movie, spending time in nature, and reading. All can be considered pacing strategies because having enjoyable experiences makes it easier to accept and live within limits.
Make Mental Adjustments

Pacing means adopting new habits, but it also requires making mental adjustments rooted in an acceptance that life has changed. This acknowledgment leads to a different relationship to the body, described by one person as “a shift from trying to override your body’s signals to paying attention when your body tells you to stop or slow down.” 

One part of this shift is changing our internal dialogue (self-talk) and expectations, so that they support our efforts to live well with illness rather than generating guilt.  

One person in the self-help program says that she used to think she was lazy when she took a nap. Now when she rests, she tells herslef, "I am helping myself to be healthy. I am saving energy to spend time with my husband and to babysit my grandchildren." Another example is the article Making a NOT TO DO List.
"Simple But Not Easy"

What one person in the self-help program said about the program is a good summary of the challenge of self-management: "What this program teaches is very simple, but not easy."

The essentials of pacing can be described in a few words: find your limits, adapt to limits, then expand activity carefully.

But pacing is also very challenging: living well with CFS or FM requires that we change our thinking and how we live our lives. This change is gradual and requires hard work, patience, and courage.

Next >>