Combatting Covid-19 Long-Term Effects with Pacing

July 21, 2022 5 min read

Combatting Covid-19 Long-Term Effects with Pacing

Most people who get COVID-19 recover within a few weeks. But for others (even though they had a milder version of the virus) they have symptoms that last a long time afterwards. These ongoing health problems are sometimes called post-COVID syndrome, post-COVID conditions or long COVID.

One of the most common side effects of the virus is similar to those caused by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and other chronic illnesses that develop after infections. CFS involves extreme fatigue that worsens with physical or mental activity. There is no special treatment for CFS, but there are strategies you can incorporate into your lifestyle that can ease some of the tiredness – such as ‘Pacing’.

Pacing

If you have CFS, you know how difficult it is to get through the day without being exhausted. The technique of pacing can help you do everyday tasks without wearing yourself out.

Pacing is a self-management technique that can help persons with long-term health conditions and disabilities to get more done by controlling symptoms such as fatigue or pain.

Everyone has an energy envelope and pacing can help you live within your energy envelope. Pacing involves doing less activity to keep energy levels within the window.

With pacing, you do short bits of activity and then rest. For example, in the morning when you are getting ready for the day, you most likely brush your teeth, get in the shower, and comb or dry your hair.

Using pacing, you would brush your teeth and rest. After the rest period, you would take a shower and then rest again. You would then move on to drying or combing your hair and rest before your next activity. As you can see, pacing breaks up activities you would normally do all at once, into small bites.  

By breaking up activity, you have a rest period to help restore your energy so you don’t get too tired.

How Does Pacing Work?

There are several aspects to pacing. Here are the main elements of pacing:

  • Planning your activities
  • Taking periodic rest breaks
  • Choosing activities based on your energy level
  • Prioritising activities 

How to Get Started With Pacing

Know your energy limit - Become familiar with your post-exertional malaise (PEM). To help you identify when you start to experience PEM keep an activity and symptom journal. List each activity you do in your journal, and rate it as high, medium, or low energy. Track your symptoms every day. 

If keeping track of all your activity is overwhelming, write down your symptoms and energy level at the end of the day and rate it from 1-5.

Modify activity levels - Once you know your PEM levels, you can start modifying or reducing your activity levels. 

Here are some tips to help you modify your activity:

  • Keep reducing activity until it stops triggering your PEM level. 
  • Prioritise your energy - Limit by learning how to say No. It may be difficult because you want to be able to participate in activities but learning to say no is vital to pacing.
  • Rest periods - Resting between activities is critical in pacing. Rest means no social media, music, TV, or reading. Any category of mental activity can be stimulating. Relax, lay down, or sit with your eyes closed until your PEM subsides. 
  • Weekly routine - Creating a weekly pattern of activity can help you identify what you can achieve regularly. Be flexible and realistic.

To make it easier, you can start incorporating pacing strategies into your day little by little.

  • Make a list of things you tend to overdo.
  • Set goals for your activities and create an activity plan.
  • Write a pacing plan.
  • Keep track of your progress.

Remember pacing is a skill. It takes time to master so you’ll need to be patient. The most crucial aspect of pacing is being realistic about what you can or can’t do. 

Pacing sounds restricting however it allows you to be more active. If you were to do a lot of activities all at once, you may be too tired or in pain to finish out the day. Overdoing it can also make you exhausted for several days. Pacing will allow you to accomplish what you want, even if it is at a slower pace.

Pacing helps you use 50 to 60% of your energy, so you have enough to get through the day. If you are suffering from chronic fatigue, it is essential to spread your energy throughout the day and not use it all at once.

A key component of pacing is rest. We have created a restorative sanctuary 1 hour outside of Melbourne called Rest and Restore Retreat where you can regularly escape to re-set mentally, physically, emotionally and deeply rest your nervous system. Make self-nurture and self-care part of your new norm as we learn to live with this virus.

Diet is another essential component of managing CFS.

Eating the right foods can also help you feel less tired. Dietary habits that can help reduce chronic fatigue are:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Limiting caffeine
  • Experimenting with different foods (be mindful of how you feel after you eat)
  • Stay away from foods with refined sugar
  • Cut down on processed foods
  • Eat more veggies (they have lots of nutrients)
  • Stay away from inflammatory foods ( fried foods, processed meats, sugar) 

One way you can combat inflammation is with Turmeric. Turmeric is an excellent addition to your diet for CFS. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is high in antioxidants. Turmeric reduces inflammation and can be as effective as taking an NSAID (anti-inflammatory drugs) for joint pain. 

Our Turmeric Tonic is packed full of curcumin – just 1 teaspoon is equivalent to taking 9 teaspoons of standard turmeric powder, and has black pepper to help improve curcumin absorption by 2,000%. 

You can mix our Turmeric Tonic with the milk of your choice (Cow’s milk or dairy free options such as Coconut, Almond, Soy, Oat and others) to maximise absorption of Curcumin – which is fat soluble. If you have CFS, try our Turmeric Tonic to help reduce joint pain and inflammation.

Another herb that can help support your draining energy is Ginseng. Our Ginseng, Gingko, & Brahmi Tonic helps with mental function, concentration and stamina. You can have a nice refreshing drink that will help you feel alert and overcome brain fog.

Living with chronic fatigue and chronic pain is challenging. By using the pacing technique, you will be able to manage your energy and do activities you enjoy with using all your energy. By breaking up tasks and taking breaks, pacing allows your energy to recharge. 

Eating a healthy diet can also help you gain more energy. Our Natural Tonics are ideal drinks to help reduce inflammation and supply your body and mind with nutrients to help fight off fatigue.


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