If you feel incredibly fatigued when recovering from Covid-19, you are among the many suffering from Long Covid. Managing your recovery can seem like an impossible task but there are techniques you can apply that will help. Most people who have Long Covid can expect to feel a gradual improvement in their breathlessness and energy levels. Part of the process to achieve this involves practising careful pacing, prioritisation, and modest goal setting.
What is pacing?
Pacing is a recognised method for the self-management of a condition. It involves combining specialist knowledge, skills and strategies to be able to manage recovery in a way that improves quality of life.
It’s important to take the psychological impact of pacing into account. Approaching any activity in a steady, balanced way means you will be less likely to burn out afterwards. So, pacing is about setting sensible limits to avoid running the risk of aggravating symptoms which might prolong your recovery.
Be realistic about your goals. Finding the right balance between activity and rest is key.
How can pacing help?
Pacing yourself throughout the day can provide you with useful strategies to:
improve control over your recovery;
reduce the frequency and severity of setbacks;
help plan and problem solve around limited capacity;
communicate clearly to others what you feel able to do.
How to pace yourself?
Firstly, it’s important to remember that we’re not just talking about pacing physical activities. Mental activity such as reading a book and emotional activities like holding a conversation also count.
There are 3 main elements to pacing:
Analysing your activity
This involves working out how demanding the everyday tasks you want to achieve are. Sometimes mental or emotional activities can be more draining than physical tasks, so take time to look at your tasks and try to measure the skills and energy needed to achieve them.
Establish a baseline
Be honest with yourself about how much you can realistically achieve at a level that is sustainable. This is your baseline level – the point at which you can undertake an activity without feeling a worsening of symptoms such as breathlessness or fatigue.
Schedule in rest and relaxation throughout the day
Allowing your body time to rest and recuperate as you undertake any activity will help to reduce the risk of becoming overwhelmed. This rest phase is as important as any activity within your recovery. You may need to rethink what “rest” means for you within a Long Covid context. For example, in place of activities previously used to relax, you may now prefer to sit still and take a moment of quiet.