pacing ourselves (or how to quit running)

One of my biggest challenges is learning to pace myself. I used to think I was one of few people with this problem. But just about 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 atease with ourselves.

But pacing is not what you think. It isn’t necessarily observable.

For example, pacing has nothing to do with personality types. Some people are very “quick”, jack-rabbit types. They move fast, they talk fast, they think fast.  They’re just fast. (Um, that would be moi.) Then there are those who move slow, talk slow, think slow. They just slow. It’s their uniqueness.

Don’t be deceived. The turtle-types are not inherently better at pacing themselves anymore than 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 up to severe mood swings which are harmful if you suffer or are prone to depression.  Having some margin in our lives is good for all of us.  None of us function well when we maintain a hectic pace. Our emotions reflect this frenzy and vacillate all over the place.  Our emotional swings are much like the vertigo from which many people suffer but in this case it’s our emotions that get “dizzy”, not our head.     

So how do we pace ourselves?  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 while and still be at a comfortable pace within ourselves. And we can be physically lethargic for a while and be running at top speed within (anxiety).

It isn’t so much what we do as it is to how our bodies respond to what we do. We are all going to find ourselves at one extreme or another at times. It’s how we pace ourselves over the long haul that is important.

For the most part I’ve settled into a pace I know is healthy for me.  Sometimes it feels really selfish.  But I know that if I’m going to be available for the long haul for the people I care about, I have to take care of me. Sometimes it is all about me.  I made this little craft just to remind me of that.

Me tray

What is well-paced living for one person may not be well-paced for another. (Back to the personality types we talked about earlier.) We are all different but if you 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  know to be.

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 living out of sync with the pace that is good for us.

When I sense things are like 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. (Only to a point, otherwise I have guilt feelings to deal with.) 

I developed lots of tools that help me regain my balance. They are the same tools I use if I sense I’m heading towards depression. 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.

The answers are waiting for you. The answers to most things are waiting for us if we seek them.

God bless and I hope you have a good day