Pacing is So Important with Fibromyalgia

Pacing is So Important with Fibromyalgia

Through the Fog
I think we all try to do more than we should, especially on our better days. No matter how many times we pay the price for that, we keep doing it, right? We really don’t want to admit, or give in to, our limitations. That’s why pacing is important with fibromyalgia.

Pacing allows us to slow down and live within the limitations our illness demands. It helps our lives be a bit more predictable and less stressed. A recent article in Psychology Today stated that “Pacing refers to spacing out your activities during the day so that you’re able to stay within the limits of what your body can handle without exacerbating your symptoms. Another way to think of it is that pacing is a way to keep you inside your “energy envelope” — the envelope that contains your energy stores for any given day.” Think about the spoon theory. If you use them all, you’ll be working at a deficit.

Pacing is setting boundaries, saying “no” when we need to, and understanding that if we don’t we will pay a price. That might be spending days in bed, calling out of work, and dealing with a potential FM flare. You know your personal limitations, and perhaps setting a realistic schedule might be helpful.

For me, this is what my pacing looks like (most of the time): My husband and I each do our own laundry. I go shopping with my husband only if I know I can handle it. I write every day, but I only do it a half-hour at a time. When I clean the bathroom, I do the sink one day, the toilet another day, and the shower yet another day. On the days that my fatigue or pain are high, then Netflix is my best buddy.

If you can, try to schedule your week. Make medical appointments for the hours in the day you usually are at your best. Pay attention to your mental exertion, and stop to rest and rejuvenate when needed.

I know we’ve all heard the term “pace yourself,” but with fibromyalgia that takes on a much more profound meaning. It’s either pace, or pay the price.

Do you have some pacing ideas that work well for you? I’d love to hear them.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. Em says:

    This is also good for those w/o fibro or other conditions. Yes, fibro is unpredictable and oft debilitating and this is what this site is about. I read about the 27 symptoms that can exist w/ fibro. My, if all of these were to strike simultaneously I would likely explode into pieces. Very few know I have fibro and the ones knowing do not comprehend-best to not reveal such and continue walking to be beat of my own little drum. Because of fibro I am no more special or exempt than another. Much like other illnesses-best kept from others.
    Counting my blessings for the days or moments I get a reprieve. Far more fortunate than many.
    Thanks again as I have learned things and shall continue learning. This comment is by no means an attack. Just some of my own observations. I have already lost too many in my life by being honest. Not self pity rather a lesson learned. I do not need to give a reason when I set boundaries.

    • Annamarie Fockema says:

      I agaree witj your comment of rather not trying to tell or explain fibromyalgia to your friends or even nearest and dearest. They just don’t get it! I sometimes wish I could look the wayI feel! At least then people might not expect so much of us! I alsways have to hear everything I should do! I stick mainly by saying I have a back problem and just deal gracfully with all the advice!


    Again, great article; I have figured out the pacing over time and like you have to listen to my body not my mind which says I can do everything! If I’m doing something I love, like gardening, I seem to have a better time of it. I stop and take breaks frequently and stop when I know I’m through even though there is one last weed to pull. I think the exercise through gardening is a huge benefit to me and am very happy for sunny spring days. Some days, i just take a full day break to recharge.

  3. Dear Robin,Well.Pacing is a topic that is like opening a big can of worms for me.It truely exacerbates every aspect of this illness for me.Knowing yourself,your body,and your limits is an art form,and I am a novice.I do try to pace myself,but I fail often.If I am graced with a day that is relatively ‘normal’,I try to accomplish all of the things that I have let go.We all know what the result of this over doing.My “M O” was:Wait till the last minute,and then go like hell”.Not a good approach to life.Old habits die hard.Fibro is life-changing,to say the least!!I am very aware of what needs to change in my approach to living with a chronic illness.The next step,for me,is to accept the things I cannot change,and the wisdom to know the difference.Many thanks for your thoughts on this huge issue of “pacing”.

  4. Loraine says:

    I have found I have to pace myself for three reasons since I was just diagnosed in March: First, I am 71 years old so old age has already begun to creep in. Second, I am also a caregiver for my disabled husband and that has to come first over anything else. Finally, after trying the “Oh I Feel Good Get It All Done” approach, I learned quickly that it didn’t work. So I now schedule only one or two tasks a day. It may sometimes take me 2 weeks to clean our house dusting one day, one bathroom another, vacuuming a single rug another etc. If I need to run errands, I do just a few that are all very close together. My kids laugh and say my new motto is “Work a bit, rest a lot.”

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