You may remember that back in October I spoke about re-evaluating how I pace. I decided to go back to establishing my baseline, i.e. what I could do in a day without making my symptoms worse. I did this because I felt as though I had plateaued in my recovery.
I had reached a stage where I felt like I was taking one step forward, then one step back and getting nowhere. I’m not going to lie, at the time I felt like I was taking a massive step backwards. However, it was definitely the right thing to do and by going through this process I actually learned something interesting about what it takes to start moving forward again.
Going back to establishing my baseline meant that I literally stripped everything back and created a simple routine that I stuck to each day. I aimed to get through the day with at least 20% (if not more) energy left in my tank.
After a period of two weeks I had broken out of my boom/bust cycle. Even better, I felt like I was moving forward again. After a month I felt the best I had in a long, long time. I stopped feeling so ill and something strange happened- I began to feel well. Staying well within my limitations obviously played a big part of that but there was something in particular that I truly believed helped: I stopped trying so hard.
Recovery can feel all-consuming. It takes a multi-faceted approach and that means you can be thinking about multiple things. You are planning what you eat, taking supplements, ensuring that you get enough rest, thinking about the products you use, planning relaxation into each day, choosing the best exercises for you, moving when you can and pacing your activities… the list goes on.
Paring things back reminded me that recovery can actually be a lot simpler and that there is less thinking involved if you make things a habit. Although routine can be boring, there is a beauty to it to. The simplicity of having a routine stops you trying so hard. Everything that you do becomes second nature and you do it without having to think about it.
Trying too hard simply comes from the desire to get better. It’s what we want more than anything else in the world. The problem with trying too hard– and being so desperate for something to happen– is that it creates stress. You may not be consciously aware of it, but it will be there. Stress will undo the good work you are putting in. One of the most important aspects of recovery is staying relaxed about it.
I thought I was being relaxed about my own recovery, especially seeing as I made time for relaxation every single day. However, this underlying desperation to get better overruled my good work. I had an end goal in my mind that I was desperate to get to.
Focusing so much on the future was creating stress that I didn’t need. When I pared things back in October, I also made the decision to take things day by day; I chose to focus only on the present day. This, along with my routine, is what stopped me trying so hard and enabled me to start moving forward again.
I find the concept of trying too hard an interesting one. For years I would find myself trying things that others ultimately had success with, only to find it didn’t work for me. Now, I reflect back and question if I was simply trying too hard? Was I getting in my own way of feeling better? Perhaps it’s not what you do that’s the most important factor but rather how you go about it. It’s food for thought anyway.
Just as a final point, I feel it’s important to say that a routine is just the basis to work from. Life will get in the way– it always does– but if you have a routine established, it’s something you can use to get things back under control again.
Routines will adapt and change depending on how you feel and as you progress through your recovery. It’s also worth saying that even when you feel like things are going the right way, flare ups and set backs can still happen. Don’t let that stop you from going back to what was working for you– don’t give up altogether. The path to recovery is certainly not a linear one!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.
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