Energy Management


  • Pacing is about stopping before fatigue/ pain increases 
  • Breaking down activities into smaller chunks 
  • Evening out level of activity, working towards consistency over ‘Boom & Bust’ or ‘fear avoidance behaviours.  
    Boom & Bust: over activity, followed by under activity and over time leading to deconditioning and moving away from our value-based activities.        
  • Fear avoidance: under activity overtime leading to deconditioning and moving away from our value-based activities. 

The pacing principals; traffic light system, 4 Ps and baseline setting can help us move towards being consistence in our activity levels

  • The Traffic Light System

    You can use our template for traffic light system of pacing or you can get a paper and divide into three rough equal columns with the following headings:


    • Increase stress
    • Increase pain
    • Increase fatigue


    • No change in fatigue/ pain


    • Soothing
    • Pain easing
    • Energising

    If we think of a battery; ‘red’ runs the battery down and ‘green’ charges/ refreshes. Biologically, red activities release hormones which worsen fatigue, pain and stress. Green releases our sooth hormones which are potent pain killers as well as improving our mental and physical wellbeing.

    Over the next week, as and when you remember, when you do an activity, notice what overall effect the activity has on you and note it under a column. You only need to list the activity once if it falls in the same category. For example if cleaning is always ‘red’ you would note it once in ‘red’. If for instance you did a light cleaning or vacuumed one room and it makes no difference to your fatigue, you can add it to ‘orange’ category as well with adding some context ie pacing cleaning. 

    At the end the week, take a moment to reflect and consider, is there is a balance in your week? Or are you spending most of your time in red/ amber? If we take a well person without fatigue, if they are living in ‘red’ they may start to feel unwell.

    In your second week, can you work towards bringing in some balance with ‘green/ soothing’ activities? We can use ‘green’ to recover from ‘red’ but see what happens if you use ‘green’ before ‘red’?

  • The 4 P's


    Prioritisewhich activities are important to you? Any deadlines to consider? Do you have to do it your self? Any support available?

    Plan- is there a time of day best for you? Considering your day/ week

    Problem solveanything which might be in the way of you completing the activity, come up with strategies to overcome them


    There is a 5th P, which is sometimes referred to: present moment awareness

  • Baseline Setting

    Baseline setting is a way to improve our ability to do our value based activities. The following steps will guide you to work out your baseline.

    1. Pick a values based activity – this can be a physical activity or a cognitive task ie reading
    2. Over three consecutive days, carry out your value based activity to the point your fatigue starts to increase. Stop there and make a note of your time / distance / number of pages etc.
    3. Work out the average for your value based activity, this is your comfortable maximum
    4. Baseline is 50% of your comfortable maximum
    5. You can increase by 10% each week if it feels comfortable. Equally, you can come back to a lower baseline as needed.

    Here is an example of baseline setting for walking:

    Day 1 6 minutes
    Day 2 8 minutes
    Day 3 10 minutes
    Comfortable maximum
    6 + 8 + 10 = 24
    24 ÷ 3 = 8 minutes
    Baseline 8 ÷ 2 = 4 minutes

    We suggest starting with 1 or 2 activities and then adding another activity once they become part of your routine.