Friday, May 29, 2009

Learning to Pace Myself

If there's anything I've learned in the last few years, it's how to pace myself. In the past, even if I had been sick with a cough and a cold, I would have continued to write "regular" posts, whether I felt like it or not. And I would have tried to finish my "to do" list yesterday, even though I was still recuperating and knew I had class last night.

Instead, I decided to write easier posts, and I spent most of the day finishing my homework and then resting. My goal was to be able to attend class, and I accomplished that. And, rather than spending the first 90 minutes of class weeding, I decided I could do that another day, so I just talked with friends and took it easy. And, thus I was able to remain in class for three hours.

While it may seem like a small accomplishment, it's an important one. How many times do we push ourselves when we don't really need to? How often do we criticize ourselves needlessly just because our expectations were unrealistic, and we didn't feel well enough to achieve them?

I don't do that any more. Yesterday was a slower day, but I did get a lot done, and yet I allowed myself to rest, and to feel good about myself even though I was operating at about a third of my capabilities. Last night, I went to bed early, and today I'm planning on resting so that I can heal from my cough and cold, and have a relaxing weekend.

It took a long time for me to learn how to pace myself, and I think it's a solid accomplishment, and one I feel good about!

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy weekend. See you Monday!


Paula Joy said...

"How many times do we push ourselves when we don't really need to? How often do we criticize ourselves needlessly just because our expectations were unrealistic, and we didn't feel well enough to achieve them?"

Those are great questions, Susan! I tend to be that way a lot of the time. Now, with a broken ankle and all, I NEED to have rest time and to pace myself. It can be frustrating, but I know that in the long run it's the best approach.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Paula Joy,
I am so sorry to hear you have a broken ankle. I apologize for not reading your blog enough lately to have found that out. But, you're right, we can only do what we can. And usually, we are harder on ourselves than other people are.

I hope your ankle mends quickly and that you're not in a lot of pain!


KJ said...

This is really a good message. My mom is perfectionist and naturally does so many things well and with ease. I have tried to copy her success and found things that come natural to her do not to me. I often would have to do lists a mile long and feel so overwhelmed that I couldn't complete them. I really am learning finally to accept myself where I am and be proud of the accomplishments that I make, a lot more pacing going on here. :.>

Mariposa said...

I really love reading this post! It is always important we pace ourselves...and yes, things done are accomplishments, big or small.

I am so happy to know that you are doing great!

Hope you have a great weekend Susan!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
It's a big lesson to learn that we are not our mothers or other people we may love or respect. And that we can only do the best we can.

Good for you for figuring this out. Personally, I admire whatever you accomplish given that you've got four kids and a job!


Wellness Writer said...

Thanks Mariposa,
I'm feeling so much better this morning. And we're planning a great weekend!


Florida Sue said...

You certainly timed this post when I needed to hear it. I love to blog about the happy things in my life, but sometimes I feel so tired and sad I just can't do it. I still feel the need to put on an upbeat demeanor all of the time and then I feel guilty when I can't do it. I feel really terrible when I come off the wrong way, and harsh words from commenters make me want to chuck the whole thing. I became the villain on another blog when I meant no harm at all. So I am thinking about just stepping back and taking a little time to regroup and regather. Even those of us who have worked in the psychiatric profession are not immune to illness. Thanks Susan, you are terrific.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Florida Sue,
I think many of us have been in the same place you are. During the worst of my depressive episodes, I can't post because I'm too sad.

And sometimes when I return, I feel so vulnerable that even the slightest hint of criticism makes me feel like I never want to blog again.

I've stepped back a few times, and I always return once I feel stronger.

My friend Gianna at Beyond Meds recently closed comments on her blog because she got one that truly hurt her feelings while she was at a rehab facility trying to get off psychiatric medication.

But, on the other hand, there are so many truly kind people whose comments are uplifting and heartening.

FYI...I love your blog. I find you quirky (a huge compliment because this is one of my most prized traits), interesting, passionate, and someone who has a great sense of humor (another of the top five traits I cherish in others).

So, please think twice between stepping back and regrouping. Sometimes, all we need is a rest. Other times, we just need to realize there are some people who are just jerks and we need to ignore them rather than let them silence us!

All my best!


Emma said...

Congratulations! I think of 'pacing oneself' as a gift to ourselves of the care, patience, kindness and tenderness that we may so easily give to another, but seldom allow ourselves. I know when I am able to do this, I feel less overwhelmed. Your post was a timely reminder!
I am delighted that you were able to make to your class. Every good wish for a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful weekend.
A HUGE hug Emma

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Emma,
Thank you! It is important to think of ourselves as much as we think about others. And my class was so enjoyable. A huge hug back at you. Hope you have a lovely weekend too!


catatonickid said...

It's funny, the better I learn this lesson (albeit slow on the uptake on this one) then more productive I seem to be in the long-run. Hopefully, like you, I will get better about the feeling good about it part.

Have a good weekend!

Howard said...

Good reminder to us all, Susan. I often wonder why I push it to provide for my family (good) or serve others (good), or is it to fulfill some kind of cultural expectation or insecure need to feel important (both bad). If I push myself too much--especially when I am manic--I burn out and then can't love or serve very effectively.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear CK,
It is interesting how learning to slow down and delight in small pleasures can make us feel better.

I used to feel that I had to write so many pages a day in order to feel like I'd accomplished something. And when I was working on a book project, I just kept on pushing myself ahead in order to meet my deadlines.

But, now that my deadlines are my own, I even allow for fallow periods. And rather than worrying that I'll never come up with another book project, I pursue hobbies like gardening, which actually has enabled me to think up a host of new writing ideas.

I'm only sharing this with you because I think it may apply.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Howard,
The key for me when I used to experience medication-induced hypomanias was to be aware of what I was doing.

There were years when I just couldn't see it or didn't realize the degree to which I was "speeding."

Ultimately, I developed a system with my husband so that he could let me know. And when I was too active, too "charming," too willing to take on too many projects, and too "out there," he would let me know--not in a judgmental way, just so that I knew.

And then I began trying to slow myself down, through relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, and so much more. I also used him as a sounding board before starting new projects or becoming engaged with new people.

It's not 100 percent effective. But when there are moments of hypomania (unfortunately, this symptom hasn't gone away completely), I am much better about maintaining "normalcy." And if I get myself too involved with people or activities, I apologize and set boundaries before it leads to a depression.

This is still an ongoing problem, but far less of one.


Wendy Love said...

Here you have made a point of a simple post, within the limitations you are experiencing this week, and yet you have clearly hit on a topic that we can ALL identify with. I have had to learn to pace myself as well, but must admit I keep having to learn it again and again and again. Glad to hear you are having some success.
Wendy Love

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Wendy,
Yes, it's just something to remember. And actually, I've made huge success in this area (smiling face).