I have a pacing tool that is also a yoga tool and it helps me a lot.
Pacing is an important part of learning to manage chronic pain and fatigue well. It’s a set of tools that are within our control (generally) and that can make a big difference.
Pacing is living in line with our abilities.
It incorporates several principles and tools and, while simple, isn’t easy.
I do my best to break it down so that it’s easier for you to implement.
Today I want to share the Pacing tool that changed the game for me.
Scheduled rests. Specifically Yoga Nidra guided meditation.
While Pacing incorporates the macro view (how much we do total) and the micro view (rest to activity ratio), an important part is getting proactive.
Little rests such as sitting down with our heat pack, or brief breathing breaks are great. Especially if we are in a phase of life where as don’t have much control of our schedule. (See Pacing with a baby).
Proper, full stop rest breaks are where it’s at.
There are a couple of benefits to this pacing tool
The first is that preemptive rest is more restorative than waiting until you’re exhausted. On the days I’ve pushed it too far, my nervous system is too heightened to let me relax and the rest is basically ruined. Or you could spend the first half of the rest simply overcoming the overtiredness, thereby losing half of the restorative rest time.
The second is that a full rest stop, complete parasympathetic nervous system state, is much more restorative than little dribbles of rest. Those breathing breaks, or two minute meditations, are wonderful. But they are a drop into the pond. You need the pond.
Why Yoga Nidra rather than a nap?
For several reasons. First, many of us can’t nap, insomnia is a real issue. Second, napping can make us feel worse. Third, Yoga Nidra can be more restorative than napping (or even night sleep). Fourth, you can more easily control how long you spend resting – set the Nidra length you need and you can also set a timer. And finally, Yoga Nidra has a heap of extra benefits.
The benefits of Yoga Nidra in brief:
1. Activates parasympathetic nervous system (complete rest)
2. Balances the nervous system (by inducing the parasympathetic nervous system, it brings balance to our overactivated sympathetic nervous system)
3. Reduces tension and pain (It’s the only thing I can do during a migraine and it helps)
4. Lessens fatigue (for me it’s more rejuvenating than sleep)
5. Very calming (I never feel so calm as when I come out of a meditation)
To learn more about Yoga Nidra, check out this post here.
Assessing your needs
How many lie down rests do you take each day?
Are they full rests?
Or simply non doing?
Do you take them when your symptoms have already skyrocketed?
I stumbled upon scheduled rests by accident. But it’s a tool recommended in several articles about managing CFS/ME.
Each day, right after lunch (when the baby naps or as a lunch break for work), I take a Yoga Nidra guided meditation rest. This is a curtains closed, eye mask on, earphones in, legs on a cushion, full rest. If I have to, I can get by on a 20 minute one. But I do best with a 40 minute one.
It is the most profound rest I can get. Ever.
What if you’re in the messy middle like me? (How to fit in this pacing tool if you have NO time)
I get it, we don’t all have the luxury of an office door to close, or working from home, or being with napping babies. So how do we fit it in if we are too well to be off sick, but too sick to be “normal”?
When I had much less time and energy, and knew less about managing chronic fatigue well, I would do a 10 minute practice in the car. It would be my stop gap between work and picking up my son from care.
So, even if you can’t do a full lie down, 20-40 minute rest, try to fit in a 10 minute rest. It can still give you benefits.
You could do it just before bed, first thing in the morning or if you’re a passenger in a car on a commute.
Want to try it? Grab my free yoga series here with a yoga nidra.
Want a whole library of chronic illness friendly yoga? Join the team – I’m on a mission to create an on demand yoga studio full of accessible yoga for people with chronic pain and fatigue.