I was lovely to hear in Friday’s podcast that I’ve inspired Michael Nobbs to think about planning some Days Off for himself. As Michael says, when you don’t have much energy or spare time it’s very tempting to fill every available moment with activity. Then even planned pleasures can prevent us from having the “blissful feeling of waking up knowing there’s nothing we’ve got to do”.
The key thing for me about my Days Off is very much that there’s nothing I’ve got to do. I don’t book social arrangements or appointments on Days Off, though I might do something with friends on the spur of the moment and if, say, a plumbing emergency occurred I’d deal with it. I might also do some creative work or even some non-essential chores, but I don’t have to – nothing is scheduled.
It seems odd that by planning to do less I’m actually achieving more. I’m using my time and energy more effectively every day. I think this is because having scheduled time off makes me less resentful about doing all the stuff that has to be done to keep life going. The stuff that you don’t even notice doing when you are healthy, but which feels like bloody hard work when you aren’t.
One of the key rules of pacing as an ME/CFS management strategy is to only do 70% of what you can do, so you don’t run out of energy and keep some in reserve. I find this extremely hard to achieve on a day by day, task by task basis, as some things simply have to be done whether I’ve got the energy or not. And it’s pretty hard to determine what 70% of something that is both variable and unmeasurable is anyway!
By planning my activities on a weekly basis and scheduling two complete days off each week, I’m hoping I’ve stumbled on a way of keeping more or less within the 70% envelope without keeping up the constant vigilance which is so exhausting. More about how I plan my week another day.
Do you need a Day Off? If so, get your diary out and book one now!