7. Activity Pacing

Experts know that a daily routine that consists of "uptime" and "downtime" activities (that is, alternating between more demanding and less demanding behaviors) can help patients with emotional stress do more and feel less fatigue.

Why does pacing help?

  • Saving energy is necessary for physical and psychological recovery
  • Pushing yourself for extended periods of time leads to exhaustion and longer recovery periods
  • By alternating between rest and work periods, your body has a chance to recuperate throughout the day

Learning about Pacing

You will need to determine what your own upper limits are for activities. How many planned events/activities can you handle per day? Before your SCAD, it may have seemed as though you could go non-stop; now, that may have changed. Pay attention to your level of stress, worry, sadness, and fatigue as a gauge. If you’re exhausted, anxious, or wired, you may be doing too much (or doing the wrong things to manage your mood). The good news is that upper limits are not permanent barriers; they are usually temporary guidelines that can be gradually changed over time. Pacing is about knowing your limits and being smart about how to change them gradually.

Painting done by a SCAD patient learning to pace herself

One way to pace yourself is to think about your energy as a cup of sugar. No matter what, you should always have some sugar left in your cup at the end of the day. During periods of physical and emotional recovery, you should aim to have at least 50% remaining. Consider using a visual self-assessment tool such as the one shown below: draw your “sugar level” remaining in each of the 3 cups (physical, emotional, cognitive) several times throughout the day to help figure out when and how you’re using up your energy.



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