“There was a little girl, with a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was really, really good
And when she was bad,
She was horrid.”
That’s me in a nutshell, in particular with not knowing how to pace myself. When I’m on a roll, there’s no one with more energy than me. When I’m not, I’m like a limp dishrag.
One of my biggest challenges is learning to pace myself. I used to think I was one of the few with this problem. But every friend I have, every person I know suffers from the same dis-ease. I write it that way, dis-ease, because it really is a case of not being at-ease with ourselves.
It seems that the people who pace themselves well are almost always comfortable with themselves. They’re not trying to prove anything to anybody.
I can’t imagine being totally comfortable with myself although every once in a while I am, like when circumstances conspire together in such a way that I find myself in a role I feel highly qualified to play. I pace myself better because I’m just more at ease. It doesn’t happen often though.
Pacing has nothing to do with personality types. Some people are very “quick”. They move fast, they talk fast, they think fast. They’re just fast.
Then there are those who move slow, talk slow, think slow. They’re just slow. Don’t be deceived. The turtle-types are not inherently better at pacing than are the jack-rabbits. It just looks that way. Pacing has much more to do with what’s going on inside than what we see on the outside.
Why is pacing even important? How do we realistically pace ourselves in a healthy way?
Why pacing is important. Pacing ourselves is important because if we don’t pace ourselves, we open ourselves to severe mood swings which are detrimental if you suffer or are prone to depression. We run too hard, we play too hard, and when it comes to a sudden halt, we crash. Having some margin in our lives is good for everyone.
None of us function well when we maintain a hectic pace. Our emotions will reflect this frenzy and will be all over the place. Our emotional swings are much like vertigo from which many people suffer but in this case, it’s our emotions that get “dizzy” not just our head.
So how do we pace ourselves well? I can’t cover all bases but a jumping off place might be in recognizing the connection between what we’re doing and how we’re feeling. Think about the above mentioned “dizzy” emotions. We can be insanely busy for a period of time and still be at a comfortable pace within. We can be physically inert for a while but be running at top speed within.
It isn’t so much what we do as it is how we listen to our bodies and respond to what we do. We are all going to find ourselves at one extreme or another for while. It’s how we pace ourselves overall that is important.
During the last year of my mother’s life, there was nothing routine about my schedule. But for the most part, I settled into a pace I knew was healthy for me. Sometimes it felt really selfish but I knew that if I were going to be available for the long haul for the people that I care about, I had to take care of me. Sometimes it was all about me. I made this little craft just to remind me that’s it was OK.
What is well-paced living for one person may not be well-paced for another. If you will start to pay attention to your emotions you’ll know for yourself what pace is best for you. I’m not suggesting you trust your emotions. Our emotions can be seriously misleading. Mine certainly have been on occasion.
What I am saying is that we simply pay attention to our emotions. They can be a good indicator of how we’re pacing ourselves. When our emotions are all over the place and we feel “dizzy” inside we are usually out of sync with what is good for us.
When I sense things are like that for me, I try to regain my footing. For me, it’s often remembering my favorite scripture.
“Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
Sometimes I take each word and concentrate on it. I might repeat it throughout the day to remind myself I need to “be still”.
I breathe deeply and slowly. I might take a brisk walk. I have a cup of tea. I read. I sit. I pray. I meditate. I indulge myself. (To a point. Otherwise, I have guilt feelings to deal with.)
I have lots of tools I’ve developed in my quest to be depression-free and regain my balance. I’ve learned which ones work best depending on my circumstances. You probably know what works for you; you may just have not thought about it much.
Take some time and ask yourself what works for you to keep you even-keeled. What can you do to live your life in moderation? Have you ever experienced “dizzy” emotions? The answers are waiting for you. The answers to most things are waiting for us if we seek them.