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Pace Myself? Sure, Just Don

Pace Myself? Sure, Just Don’t Tell Me I Need To

If you are suffering from a chronic illness like MS, you may hear the phrase “remember to pace yourself” more than you’d like. It’s just one thing people can say that can be pretty grating when you hear it. I don’t know about everyone else, but I know when someone says that to me, I tend to speed things up! As unpleasant as it is to hear, the sentiment is not all that bad. Taking some time to do things our way at our own speed can be extremely helpful and make for a more rewarding life. That’s something that not only those with a chronic illness need to remember, but also those around us.

Feeling different from everyone else

No one likes the idea of having to slow down, or of feeling different from everyone else, and certainly no one wants to hold anyone up. So when someone tells us to pace ourselves, no matter how good their intentions are, it’s going to make us feel pretty crappy. It’s a huge reminder that we’re different, that something might be wrong with us. It also makes us feel like we’re a terrible burden to you. So no matter how good your sentiment is, I implore you to not say that to those with chronic illness. For the most part, we know our bodies pretty well, and if we need a reminder to slow it down, trust me, our body will let us know.

Going at our own speed

For those with a chronic illness, learning to pace ourselves a bit can be pretty helpful. It can be a huge key to adapting and making the most of our lives. No matter what our symptoms are, there is so much we can still accomplish if we simply take our time and do it our way. Going at our own speed may seem frustrating at first, but more often than not, it can be rewarding. A big key to that though, is having others understand that we may be just a little slower or do things a little bit differently to get the task done.

Little accomplishments can mean a lot

We recently had a pretty messy kitchen in my house. Dirty dishes, wrappers, ingredients not put away, a clean but full dishwasher, anything you can picture in a disaster of a kitchen, it was there. Getting it in order would be a pretty overwhelming task for someone like me, but I wanted to be the one to clean it. I know, that sounds crazy, right? But I wanted the normalcy of being able to get that task done (and yes, I know, we shouldn’t let it get that way in the first place). I convinced my roommate to let me do it. I said, like many tasks I take on, it won’t happen quickly, not even in one day, but it will get done, and I’m going to do it. While that meant the kitchen was dirty for a bit longer than anyone would have liked, my roommate relented and let me do it my way, at my pace. I’m super thankful for that, because I did get it done and it made me feel good to finish it. I know that may sound bizarre, but little accomplishments like that can mean a lot.

Advice for family and friends

Patience is so important with a chronic illness, not only for those that are suffering, but for our friends and family as well. It’s far more important to me for my friends and family to understand and respect my need to pace myself, than it is for them to remind me of it. I admit, sometimes I do need reminding that slowing down a bit can be helpful. That reminder is always better for me to rediscover on my own though, no matter how painful it might be. So friends and family, please don’t tell us to slow down, but understand if we do. Others with an illness, let’s try to remember that there is nothing wrong with going at our own pace.

Thanks for reading!


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Julie
    2 years ago

    I just made it thru Thanksgiving….just barely.
    I thought ahead of time about what I was bringing to the family gathering and even made a schedule out for myself. (baking the pumpkin cookies one day, frosting them the next as well as baking the pumpkin bread, mixing up the broccoli casserole the day after that, etc, etc.)

    The problem that I didn’t see coming was that I didn’t figure in that this was an addition to everything else I do every day. So the first day I was a bit worn out, the next day I almost felt like crawling around on the floor, we won’t even discuss the day after that. By the time Thanksgiving arrived I didn’t even want to go.

    I’m not sure how to pace myself when there are special occasions. It took me a couple of days for me to get back to feeling like my usual crappy self. So, to hell with pacing! I think I’ll just do as much as I feel able to do and others will just have to understand.

  • Amy B Mel
    2 years ago

    I enjoy your point of view Devin, but I don’t quite agree this time. I take no offense when my sister or husband say “pace yourself dear”, to me it shows that they understand my pace. They get that I’m gonna take longer or stop and rest. I typically am already pacing myself, and it’s just said as acknowledgement. On the other hand if I have my mind and body set to do more than I should I sometimes want them to shut up and let me do it! Ha! If it means I’m in bed at 8:00, with leg spasms, then it’s my price to pay!

  • Clarissa
    2 years ago

    Thanks for expressing this–it really resonates with me. One of the times I feel most frustrated about this issue is when I have to go somewhere with a group of co-workers, and I just cannot keep up the pace with everyone else due to my mobility issues. It is a painful reminder that I am different, and frequently the pace setter doesn’t even notice that I am getting further and further behind. 🙁

  • Anguiano
    2 years ago

    Omg, very word u said is so true. Sometimes I can’t wait to be home alone so I can do things my way and at my pace. It may take awhile but when I finally finish it’s so rewarding.

  • vikingkitty
    2 years ago

    I’m with ya on that one Devin…I don’t like being reminded that I am different and that I can’t keep up and that I need to rest and slow my pace down…..I can’t do as much as someone my age. There are people older than me that I can’t keep up with. My body sets the pace and I’m forced to follow whether I like it or not 🙂

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