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Pacing is an important part of coping with life with fibromyalgia. Pacing is not something I thought about at all before I came down with fibro, but now it is how I get through the day with minimal symptoms tugging at my mind and my body.

Communication with the people in my life is an important part of pacing. My husband, my family, and my coworkers all need to know that I have to pace myself. I’m lucky that people in my life are understanding, or at least trust me to know my symptoms and know when I need to move more slowly or differently. Luckily with the job I have now nobody really needs to know I’m pacing myself. The most I do is tell my students I’m going to do a lot of sitting during class, and I might call them to me rather than come to their desks. I know that other people have conflicts in the workplace.

So pacing takes a few different forms: movement modifications, rest breaks, and breaking the task into smaller steps. Movement modification means I might not bend as much when doing chores, or I might find a product or device that makes doing the chore easier. Today’s chores were done with the rest breaks: I did forty minutes of chores, sat down to rest for an hour, and then got up to do twenty more minutes of chores. I also did some stretching when done with the chores in hopes to stave off creaks and aches (I think I was successful; I don’t have more than my usual background level of aches and creaks). Breaking the task into smaller steps means I spread a task out over a day or a series of days depending on the task. This type of pacing requires I have understanding people in my life. It also means that I can accept that things don’t get done as quickly as I want them to get done. I have to have patience with myself and my body. This kind of acceptance is a key to living with all kinds of chronic illnesses and is probably one of the hardest aspects for me to deal with. I am not by nature a patient person, so learning to accept that my house is not as clean as I want it to be or that I can’t do all the reading and writing I want to do in my life is a difficult task. Most days I don’t think about it; most days I just set the pace and keep going, knowing I might never get through everything.

Isn’t that what everyone does?

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