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Pacing – getting into first gear

So did you write down a list of activities? Nah – you didn’t right because you’re just reading this blog to research about Pacing and how to Pace?! ( I’ve been there).

However if you have a list of your activities – then we can start to move into first gear and categorise your activities into buckets. I chose buckets that were High, Medium and Low activities.

Activites into Bucket
Which bucket does which activity go?

But before that a key step is to define what your High, Medium and Low means. Your High, Medium and Low might be different to mine. 

From my experience – I’ve found it useful to define High as two of the following and Medium as one of the following. And Low as minimising energy spend where possible.

  • Physical energy
  • Cognitive energy
  • Emotional energy

And importantly keep the Rest and Low categories separate. This is important – because if you’ve got ME/CFS then it’s also likely you need to re-train yourself to consider what Rest is. Real Rest.  

And well you know I can’t leave behind my old corporate self – so yes – I “ragged” them. Yes – I’ve made them Red, Amber and Green – because who doesn’t love a bit of RAG’ging.

CategoryColourExample Activities
HighRedAn activity that requires both cognitive and physical energy
E.g. walking back from the school run, looking after/supervising the kids outside, taking a shower, getting up in the morning – dressed, brushing my teeth, making breakfast, etc.
MediumAmberAn activity that requires either just cognitive or physical energy
E.g. Doing Tai-Chi with a focus on mindfulness, writing a blog as I’m sat/lying down and mainly thinking and typing, watching a TV/film which engages me emotionally, reading a book, gardening if it’s slow and involves no digging whatsoever, supervising the kids when they’re watching TV and aren’t asking me much, etc.
LowGreenAn activity that minimises cognitive, physical or emotional energy
E.g. Watching easy TV –  where I’m not really that engaged and am not following a story, sitting in the garden admiring the birds and flowers, listening to an audio book/podcast but not entirely listening, flicking through a magazine/Pinterest until I start pinning Pins (once I start pinning Pins then it’s a Medium activity!), lying in bed awake pondering why my body is refusing to move, etc.
RestLight BlueNothing – as per my previous blog post – nothing!
SleepDark BlueThis is obvious – sleep zzz!

High is not at the level of ‘High’ I used to be able to do.  Facilitating a workshop, chairing meetings, delivering training, commuting on the tube having run out of the house leaving the kids fed and dressed, etc.  would not be possible in any length these days.  When I first started Pacing – I was still mostly housebound so achieving even just a walk to the park was going to be a huge achievement.  On some days – it still is.  This means that the reality for me is that in the future if/when I can do sizeable chunks of High activities – I still won’t yet be at pre-ME/CFS levels.  As to whether those pre-ME/CFS activity/stress levels were healthy – the jury is out.

Medium, I think, is my favourite.  It’s at a level when I feel that I still have purpose and a sense of achievement.  My head is ideally in a non-stressed/frazzled state and I force myself to focus on just the activity that I’m doing – I’m mindful.  However it can quickly evolve to a High level acitvity without me realising if I’m suddenly enjoying it too much and decide to push myself further or I get emotionally engaged with the activity too much.  Or I let myself start multi-tasking in my head – the curse of being a female who thinks multi-tasking enables her to be more efficient and gain bandwidth!  (And yes – still working on that!).

Low is doing not a lot – I tend to lie down a lot with a bit of TV or the radio on.  If I’m finding that hard as the noise is too much – I now recognise that as a warning sign that I need to rest.  So I switch off the TV/radio – no noise, dim the lights and rest.  And if I’m particularly poignant – I’ll put on Blur’s “This is a Low” to get me started.  

So can you categorise your daily activities into these “buckets” of High, Medium, Low and Rest.   Or more simply – just High, Low and Rest?

Next time – we’ll look at this … Yep – this is partly why I colour coded those buckets – pretty pictures to show the GP.

“A picture is a worth thousand words”

Here’s my ‘heatmap’ of when I was mainly housebound – lots of LOW activites and REST and some MEDIUM activities not much HIGH activites though. Few bits of SLEEP in the middle of day – which my GP noted and tried to get me out of the habit of. Each row ia day over a 24 hour period.

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