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Pacing activities - psychological aspects


Welcome to JK Pain Rehab, where we're about to embark on a journey that delves deep into the often underestimated world of psychological strategies for pacing activities. You might be wondering why we're placing such importance on psychology when it comes to pacing. The answer lies in the profound impact that our mental and emotional well-being has on our ability to effectively manage and pace our activities, especially in the context of chronic pain. Join us as we explore the reasons behind this and discover how psychological strategies can revolutionize your approach to pacing.

Common Challenges with Pacing

In the corridors of our pain clinic, we frequently encounter individuals who express doubts about pacing. They say things like, "Pacing sounds fantastic in theory, but as a single parent, I just can't make it work," or "My boss won't allow me to pace, no matter how much I want to." Why do people with chronic pain grapple with these challenges? The answer lies in the intricate web of psychosocial factors that can hinder the effective implementation of pacing strategies.

Non-Modifiable Pain Contributing Factors

It's essential to recognize that certain facets of our social environment are beyond our control. These are what we term as non-modifiable pain-contributing factors. But does this mean we should abandon pacing when these factors exacerbate our pain? Absolutely not.

The Role of Psychological Flexibility

Psychological flexibility and maintaining a positive mindset are pivotal in this journey. Let's consider two individuals, Person A and Person B. Person A succumbs to the belief that "I can't change my environment," while Person B actively questions, "Is there anything I can do to alleviate this challenge?" It's the latter mindset that opens doors to potential solutions.

Psychological Barriers to Effective Pacing

Drawing from years of experience, we've identified distinct personas that often struggle with pacing:

  • The Perfectionist: These individuals give 120% to every task, often leading to frustration and resentment when others don't match their level of dedication. But at what cost? Constantly pushing your nervous system to its limits isn't conducive to overall well-being.

  • The Overly Kind: Individuals who are excessively compassionate tend to prioritize the needs of others above their own, often leaving them emotionally drained.

  • The Overly Independent: Those who rarely seek help, whether due to ego, fear, shyness, or a sense of defeat, risk overwhelming stress and burnout.

  • The Mood-Driven: This group bases their activity levels on their current mood. On good days, they tackle a multitude of tasks, but on bad days, they can hardly find the energy to get out of bed. This extreme fluctuation can lead to heightened nerve sensitivity and chronic fatigue.

Unlocking Psychological Strategies for Effective Pacing

Now, let's envision someone who embodies these traits along with a negative outlook and an inflexible approach to problem-solving. Can they effectively incorporate pacing activities into their life, irrespective of their social circumstances? It's undoubtedly a challenging endeavour.


To conquer these psychological barriers, we propose a set of psychological strategies:

  1. Avoid Giving 100%: Instead of pushing yourself to the brink, learn to pace your efforts to prevent physical and emotional exhaustion.

  2. Seek Support: Don't shy away from seeking assistance when needed; a supportive network can be a game-changer.

  3. Prioritize Self-Care: Dedicate time to self-care practices that nurture both your physical and emotional well-being.

  4. Embrace Emotional Pacing: For those grappling with mood fluctuations, always keep in mind the mantra, "Don't let bad days bring you down too much, and don't let good days carry you away."


In conclusion, the psychological aspect of pacing is a cornerstone of effective chronic pain management. By recognizing and addressing these psychological barriers, you can revolutionize your approach to pacing activities and enhance your overall well-being. It's a journey that requires patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to explore new strategies.



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