Pacing and overcoming fatigue

4) Peak and trough

Graph showing wavy line with peaks and troughs, x-axis is labellled time, the y-axis is labelled activity

  • Peak: feeling good and being able to do tasks. If you do not pace yourself or if you do too much this peak feeling will not last and you will start to feel tired and head down to the trough. Pacing helps you to maintain your peak for longer.
  • Trough: the effect of doing too much and afterwards becoming tired or not feeling well. If this pattern continues or repeats you may start to feel unable to attempt tasks because you anticipate that you will only be able to cope for a short time. You may start to avoid some tasks.

These terms are often used to describe the behaviour pattern many people living with a long term health condition find themselves caught in as they try to manage and maintain routines.

Still trying to juggle various life demands? You can find yourself trying to keep going as you have always done without taking into account the symptoms you are now living with on a day-to-day basis. Symptoms can vary from one day to the next. The demands of our daily lives do not always fit seamlessly with the peaks and troughs of the condition and compromise and negotiation are essential skills.

Your habits, routines, and ways of doing things can be a struggle to change. This is the challenge of putting pacing into practice.


Pacing is about bringing in changes that help you stay in control of your physical symptoms and emotional well being.