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Planned Rests

Having regular daily rest periods is an important part of pacing, and for many people with CFS and FM the heart of their work to adjust to limits. Scheduled rests give you a way to control symptoms, avoid flare-ups and bring greater predictability to your life.

We often refer to planned rest breaks as pre-emptive rest, and contrast it to recuprerative rest. The latter used to recover from overdoing. In contrast, scheduled or pre-emptive rest is a preventive measure, a strategy for reducing symptoms, gaining stability and reducing total rest time. It's a way to avoid flare-ups and escape the cycle of push and crash.
Scheduled rest is a popular energy management strategy because it is straightforward and brings immediate benefits to most people who use it: greater stability, reduced symptoms and greater stamina. Scheduled resting often results in a reduction in total rest time, because of a reduction in crashes that require long rest periods for recovery.

We use the term rest in a special way. For us, it means lying down with your eyes closed in a quiet place. If this way of taking a break doesn't work for you, you might experiment with other ways of resting, such as listening to quiet music or a meditation app. The important thing is to take a break from normal activity and create a quiet place to recharge your batteries.  

For people with light to moderate CFS or FM, a scheduled rest plan might mean one or two rests of 15 minutes to half an hour each. Those with severe conditions may benefit from taking many brief rests a day, for example a 10 to 15 minute rest every hour or two.
Planned rest is often the first pacing strategy tried by people in the self-help program. Here are the thoughts of three people who experimented with it while taking the introductory self-help class.

[Right after starting the class,] I decided to incorporate two scheduled rests into my day and the results have been incredible. My symptoms and pain have decreated and I feel more 'in control'. My sleep has been more refreshing and even my mood has improved.

Since I've been forcing myself to rest every day, I have found I have more stamina. And I've noticed the graph of my days doesn't dip and rise so steeply.

I have been resting between activities, sometimes only for five minutes. For the first time in the four and a half years that I have been ill, I feel that it is possible to manage my symtoms and have some predictability in my life.

You may be tempted to skip your rests on days when you are feeling good. At such times, it may be helpful to remind yourself that, by taking scheduled rests, you are avoiding symptoms, and more rest, in the future. Resting according to a fixed schedule, not just when you feel sick or tired, is part of a shift from living in response to symptoms to living a more predictable and stable life.
If you want to try scheduled rest, we recommend you start with lying down in a quiet place with your eyes closed. If you find yourself distracted by your thoughts, try using a relaxation technique or listening to music or to a relaxation CD. 

If lying down doesn’t work for you, experiment with other ways of resting, for example resting in an easy chair or reading a book. If you fall asleep while resting, it may be a sign that your body requires more rest.
For more, see the article Nurture Yourself with Pre-Emptive Rest on the self-help program site and the Success Stories in the box in the top/right area of this page.

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