Friday, May 3, 2013

Pacing Yourself, Resting, and Getting the Job Done in Baby Steps

Image Courtesy of [Danilo Rizzuti]/
Today, I get to exercise practicing the art of slowing down.  While I write this, I think, "As if I wasn't slow enough already."  It is true that I don't see myself as speedy anymore, nor do I  accomplish everything I would always like to accomplish, but that doesn't bother me like it used to.  I have learned to accept it as part of my life, and I have learned I can still make improvements in areas that for a while, seemed impossible to change.

One of the things you need to learn when dealing with chronic illness is pacing yourself.  Sometimes, it includes uncomfortable attempts to change one's upside down schedule to a more normal one.  When I woke up today, after only sleeping about 5 hours of only partially restorative sleep, I decided to make another try at staying awake and going to bed at an earlier hour than usual.  Have you ever tried to do something like this?   It may or may not work.  Unfortunately, my night owl tendencies tend to override a normal daily schedule with the fact, I often lie in bed wide awake, even when all I want to do is sleep.  I have found different ways to compensate, and I have gotten to the point in my life, it is not worth it to agonize over a weird schedule.  It is what it is.  

However, once in a while, I have to try to normalize my schedule to fit in with some of the scheduled activities I want or need to do.  If it works, great!  If it doesn't, I am not  going to be miserable and guilty over something I can't help.

The second thing I want to mention about pacing is knowing when to say no to work.  Sometimes, we feel like we have to force ourselves to do things, even though our bodies are drained and the very thought of work is almost painful.  The bone deep fatigue is something we can feel gnawing at our muscles and nerves.  Our cells are depleted of the energy they need to function normally.  Sometimes, it hits us unaware.   And there are times, it is not surprising at all.  

However, even though the fatigue is there, we know there are things that need to be done.  Only  you can decide what is important.  If you still have children that live at home, then sometimes you have to push through to get something done.  However, you need to remember that when you give in one area, you will have to let something else go.  Otherwise, you could end up where I was a few years ago, which was on empty--able to do nothing.  And I have never been able to fully recover.

If you have been following this blog, you know I have been trying to make our house less cluttered, as well as making it a welcoming, comfortable home.  I have had to contend with dark walls and changes that were not in my former home, which was newer;  and, it is even more challenging with my disabilities.  However, I have been taking baby steps, and I am seeing changes that help improve our surroundings and my motivation. 

It seems to me that getting started is often the hardest thing to do, whether you are ill or not.  But if you take the first step you can usually take another one, and then another one.  And the wonderful thing is that the first step can be as small as putting one thing away or cleaning for one minute.  The pre-step can be visualizing what you are going to do, and how you are going to do it.  

1.  Yep, looking really bad.
That is how I got this sideboard cleaned  off -- one baby step at a time.  In fact, I have more to do to complete the job:  I want to decorate.  But I have done the hardest part for me, which was to clean it off and not just shove things into a bag or box, and stick it in a closet.  It took me about two months to get this done, because I have been working on the whole dining/work room

3.  Here, I have a nice clean palate to work with.
I see  endless possibilities.  Woohoo!

2.  It's better, but very dusty and there
are those icky little pieces of paper  to
go through -- not my favorite thing.

Finally, I want to end with how I am pacing myself.  Today, this sideboard and wall does not have to have objects placed on it.  In fact, every time I walk by it, I can enjoy the uncluttered surface and anticipate with enjoyment the thing I like better  than cleaning, which is decorating.  Moreover, I think I may still have a couple of boxes that were never unpacked from moving.  Next week or sometime this weekend, I might have Christmas in May and discover what is in one of those boxes.  Delicious anticipation...  Will it be something that looks good on that wall or on the sideboard?  What fun it will be finding out!

One final word:  I believe you can learn to do this.  I have not gotten to this point overnight.  I have been working on rebuilding good habits and learning new ways to get the job done over a period of years.  It took not being able to do anything for me to learn how to do things in  baby steps, and to give myself a psychological break.  Be kind to yourself:  do what you can and realize tomorrow is another day.  We are building habits.  That does not happen overnight.  

God bless you and have a good weekend.   

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It's always lovely hearing from you. xoxo, Deborah