How to Manage Daily Activities With Chronic Illness

Living with chronic illness can be trying, especially during flair ups. For the millions of Americans who live daily with chronic illness, pacing can help you manage your daily tasks and activities while living with difficult symptoms.

Pacing involves completing daily activities at home, at work, and in your social life without making pain or fatigue worse. Often people who experience chronic pain or other life altering symptoms will try to push themselves harder following days where they are “out of it” or get nothing done. This over exertions can cause symptoms to flair up and actually negatively impact the health of patients. Pacing means keeping the same level of activity daily, regardless of whether it is a “good day” or a “bad day.” Successful pacing will lead to increased stamina and your body will slowly adapt to this new schedule.

Use Pacing to Manage Daily Activities With Chronic Illness

Think about how long it takes you to do certain daily activities on a bad day and write these times down. Then, think about how long these activities take on a good day and write this down. Daily activities may include brushing your hair, making your bed, cooking meals, or any other task you would like to complete. If you are new to pacing and experiencing more severe symptoms or pain, tasks may include sitting, standing, or walking. Set your own time limits for each of these activities. I recommend starting with a timespan closer to your “bad day” and allowing yourself to improve over time.

Pacing means that you will keep up these activities and time ranges on both good and bad days. This will allow you to incorporate a stead amount of activity every day and to improve your stamina. Pacing, when done correctly, also helps improve mental health of patients and a sense of mastery. The key is to know your limits and stop when necessary. Be honest with yourself about how long you can maintain an activity. It may also be helpful to share your pacing plans with a family member or friend. They can help encourage you and monitor your pain levels when engaging in different activities.

Want to discuss how you can manage your daily activities with chronic illness using psychotherapy? Let’s talk!