Racing to get to the finish line will not serve you well. It will simply trigger exhaustion and symptom flares.
A better approach is to PACE yourself.
To be successful at pacing, you have to pay attention to your body and know your limits. It can help to keep a journal or symptom log. The aim is to answer questions like
- How much physical activity can I handle in a day or at a time?
- How much mental exertion can I handle in a day or at a time?
- What activities impact me most?
- At what time of day do I have the most energy?
What symptoms are “early warning signs” that I’ve neared my limit?
The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a diary is to keep it simple. If it takes only a few minutes to fill out, you’re more likely to stick to it when you’re feeling your worst (which can be the most important time to do it.) Also, while several forms are available, you should tailor the records to your own situation and keep the information relevant to you.
Experts have come up with different types of diaries or logs and a lot of templates are available online. You may want to experiment to see which method or combination of methods works best for you.
- Symptom log:
One or more times a day, make a list of symptoms you’re experiencing and rate their severity. This type of diary can help quantify your level of symptoms, identify which symptoms impact you most, pinpoint interactions between symptoms and document day-to-day changes.
- Activity log:
By keeping an activity log, you can link what you do with how you feel. It can help to track things such as how much and how well you sleep, exercise levels, running errands, housework and socializing. You might also benefit from tracking your emotions and stress levels.
- Envelope log:
An envelope log can help you see how well you’re staying within your limits, this is essential for proper pacing and minimising pain flares. Using a scale of 1 to 10, you rate your energy level, activity level and symptom level. If your symptoms are different at different times of day, it might help to fill it out 2 or 3 times daily.
- Keeping a Journal
Some experts say keeping a more traditional journal — about your life and for personal rather than medical use — can be a big help relieving stress and managing the emotional components of living with a chronic illness. You may even want to share your journal with people in your life to help them gain a better perspective on what it is you’re going through.
2002-2007 Hearthstone Communications Ltd. All rights reserved. “Maintaining a Good Relationship with Your Health Care Provider” and “Keeping a Journal”