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Pacing

Everyone has different amounts of energy. You could think about your energy like a battery, if we use too much energy our battery will run out quickly, if we use the ‘just right’ amount of energy our battery can last for longer and we can do more of the things we like. Pacing is when you use the ‘just right’ amount of energy so you can do all the things you want to do during the day without getting too tired.

Most people have good and bad days. Good days may feel like you have a fully charged battery and you can do more. If you do too much on your good days, then your battery may become empty and the following day you might feel really tired. This is called the ‘Boom and Bust’ cycle.

Boom bust cycle

You have a good day with more energy and motivation to be more active, or you have lots going on so you have to do more. You do more than you should and push through the tiredness.

After this you crash and feel very tired and less motivated. This means you need lots of rest, may need to cancel plans and stay at home to rest.

Then the cycle repeats.

Pacing

Pacing is a way of reorganising how you do everyday activities. Everyone has to pace. Some people need to think about this more than others because all our health needs are different. You can pace when you are at home, school, on holiday, with your family, with your friends or out and about.

Everyday activities might include:

  • Physical tasks such as getting up, washing, dressing, as well as walking, travelling and sports.
  • Mental activities like watching TV, using your phone or computer, schoolwork, reading, concentrating and multi-tasking.
  • Social time using your phone or being with friends or family.
  • Emotional situations, such as having arguments, feeling low or anxious or being under stress.

Activities might use up different amounts of energy depending on the person.

How do I pace myself?

When you wake up in the morning, think about your energy battery. Does it feel full or not fully charged? Also think about what jobs you have to do in the day. This might be going to school, going out, seeing friends and family or playing.

You can pace your energy by:

  • using equipment that helps like your wheelchair, walker or a chair specially made for you
  • having a rest like sitting down or having a nap
  • spread activities throughout the day that use lots of energy, instead of doing them all in a short space of time
  • having quiet time
  • letting others help
  • knowing when your energy battery might be running low and telling someone
  • eating healthy and drinking water at regular times
  • finding your own ways to relax and recharge your energy battery
  • regular bedtimes

An example of how you might pace your energy during the day might be:

  • get out of bed
  • have breakfast
  • do an activity such as a walk
  • sit down and rest
  • have lunch
  • do an activity such as homework
  • rest with a low energy activity
  • have dinner
  • do an activity
  • get ready for bed
  • sleep

Remember that everyone is different and we all need to find our own balance between activity and rest. If you would like to talk more about pacing and how it can work for you, ask to speak to your therapist.

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: PT75

Resource Type: Article

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