Prioritize, plan and pace day-to-day activities with your chronic pain condition.

Living with pain affects all areas of your life, including the day-to-day activities. Find helpful tips on how to manage those daily tasks.

Individuals with pain/fatigue may still want to participate in activities, but can find that they end up in poor patterns.

Chronic pain graph Chronic pain graph

Some people try to protect themselves by doing less, resting or doing nothing. This can lead to deconditioning and depression.

Others try to push through the pain, but end up doing too much and can be unable to do anything days after.

Learning to pace is all about finding a good balance between work, rest and leisure in order to decrease the amount of demands on your body. Pacing will allow you to work more effectively and efficiently within your abilities and allows you to accomplish more in a day, with less aggravation of signs and symptoms. Pacing will also lead to improvement over time.

 Chronic pain graph

The 5 P’s

1. PACE

 

  • Pacing includes breaking down tasks into smaller manageable steps with breaks in between
  • Allows you to work at your present ability (which may fluctuate daily)
  • Listen to your body for early signs and symptoms (fatigue, discomfort, tingling etc.)
  • Don't wait until signs and symptoms appear as it may be too late, use time as a measurement
  • This principle applies to activities and exercises (remember FITT principle to guide increases in activity)

2. PRIORITIZE

  • Decide on the most important activities that you would like to accomplish that day. For example, attending a medical appointment would be prioritized over washing dishes.
  • If you have more than one important task, start with the most important to make sure it gets done.
  • Decide on tasks that you don't have to do and ask for help when needed.

3. PLAN

  • Planning allows you to alternate your heavy and light tasks and makes sure that you have a good balance. It is also important to plan recovery/rest breaks.
  • Creating a schedule for the week will help you to see your week at a glance and help you to spread out your activities.
  • Your schedule may help you to identify when to ask for help or plan an extra quiet day
  • Planning for a specific task will help decrease the number of steps and time required to complete the task

4. POSTURE

  • Look for ways to modify a task to make it more friendly for the body
  • Avoid over stretching, reaching or twisting
  • Keep the work close and in front of you, and at an easy-to-reach height
  • Use your legs for bending and not your back
  • Incorporate tools to help protect your posture (reacher, step stool, long handled equipment)

5. POSITIVITY

  • Look for ways to modify a task to make it more enjoyable (i.e. Listen to music, incorporate others)
  • Think of the positive aspects of the activity
  • Use positive self-talk to keep you motivated
  • Compare yourself to your progress last week; not before your injury
  • Record your successes and celebrate them

Resources