Pacing is one of the most important skills in your Long Covid Survival guide. Pacing can help you avoid crashes and even out the up and down nature of Long Covid. Pacing can apply in three ways: do less, break up what you’re doing, do it more slowly.
It can be tempting to push ourselves when we feel we have energy, or try to push through when we’re feeling bad. But the result is often a crash that can last from days to weeks depending on just how much we have over-exerted ourselves.
Keep below your threshold
Finding the maximum amount of activity that we can do without causing a crash, let’s call this our activity threshold, and keeping below this, can help us understand what we can achieve in a day without negatively affecting our quality of life. You can try to find you threshold by keeping track of your activity each day, making a list of what you plan to do in the morning and then ticking off each activity can help you keep tabs on how much energy you’re using.
Break it up
Try breaking up a task into more manageable chunks. Whether this doing the dishes or answering emails. Try working in shorter time blocks and taking breaks in between.
Finding a way to perform a task more slowly can reduce the amount of effort needed. Whether that’s showering or walking the dog. Can you move slower and be mindful of how the activity is affecting your body.
Spoon theory uses spoons as a visual representation of how much energy someone has throughout their day. We start each day with a limited number of spoons. People with Long Covid will have limited spoons. Each activity undertaken during the day will cost a certain amount of spoons, the greater the effort required, the more spoons utilised. Once all the spoons are used up for that day, that’s its, all energy is used up.
Example - Let’s say Gill has 10 spoons of energy for today. Gill will not wake every day with 10 spoons. Gill may have had poor sleep (-1 spoon) or woken in pain (-1 spoon). Gill may have slept badly the night before so may 30 have only started the day with 8 spoons.
Use a pacing worksheet
To help you track your daily activity and make sure you're not doing too much try printing off and using this worksheet:
Use an app
Visible is an app that allows you to keep tabs on your symptoms but also understand your Heart Rate Variability, which can be a good metric to allow you to understand your current level of fatigue.