The art of pacing

Today I have spent a lot of time pacing.

Some days my pacing is productive – I wander around the house, come across little jobs that need doing, and get them done. I feel relaxed and productive. I’m happy. Sometimes I hum or do a little skip. In these circumstances it is not really pacing, so much as pottering.

Other times though my inability to settle in any one place is not productive or relaxed. It is distracted and futile and makes my neck hurt. I am writing this in a bid to stay in one place for more than ten minutes but I’m finding it hard and the inside of my legs feels fizzy. I’m restless, like a tiger in a cage at a zoo, only far less glossy and agile.

Last week my removal boxes arrived, and this weekend I’ve begun sorting and packing. Yesterday it was definitely pottering – I methodically unstuck blutac from walls, stacked books, unhung pictures, but today I can’t recapture the same easy rhythm.

I keep starting jobs and then getting bored. I walk into a room, look around, with my hands of my hips, sigh loudly and pull a face, and walk out again. I’ve half filled several boxes and half filled the car with off cuts of wood and broken screwdrivers, but not got as far as the tip.

I even started watching an episode of Wife Swap while I ate my lunch, but got bored before the rule changes and instead decided to empty the bottom of my wardrobe. As I type, my bedroom floor is awash with old shoes, squashed handbags and broken coat hangers.

Last night I was just the same. I kept waking up in the night, feeling angry, repeatedly sitting up, frowning at my pillows, kicking my legs around and then grumpily lying back down again.

Nothing is actually wrong, so why do I have this permanent scowl?

I need some tips. What can I do to sooth my restless self, uncoil my shoulders and stop my brain from twitching? What works for you?



  1. Beth
    5 June, 2011 / 3:57 pm

    I feel your pain! There are a couple of things I now make myself do when restless and irritable:
    Vacuuming – strangely satisfying, especially when music is up loud.
    Mow the lawn

    I think writing a blog update counts as something very productive. One of my friends has just let me know she has only just got up after being drunk last night so think how unproductive her day has been!

    • 6 June, 2011 / 3:48 pm

      I did some hoovering!

      I was very satisfying :-)

  2. 5 June, 2011 / 4:00 pm

    Confine yourself to one room or area. Make a list of things to do, then cross off at least half and try to do only the first two. Empty a box or fill it with trash and take it out right away. Or, go out and sit in your car which is what I’m doing.

    • 6 June, 2011 / 3:48 pm

      I do the ‘fill a bag with shit’ thing quite often, I do find that therapeutic. Today I got around to going to the tip and a charity shop, so I did at least finish one of the jobs I started yesterday. Hooray!

  3. Jo
    5 June, 2011 / 4:23 pm


  4. 5 June, 2011 / 4:40 pm

    Nope, you are doomed – i get into this mood fairly regularly and just have to write them off to one of those unproductive days! They usually occur when I have too much to do. I am having one today. Blah!

    if you find a solution let me know!

    • 6 June, 2011 / 3:46 pm

      I had a beer, that was quite helpful. Probably not practical for a mid-morning crisis though…

  5. 5 June, 2011 / 5:05 pm

    at night try a relaxation dvd, I have a couple with people talking on and they are good they take a bit of getting into but are brill once you get use to them, or even an audio book, I never hear much more than 10 mins, at a time, and with my sound pillow I can listen without disturbing others or strangling myself with headphones. I switch mine on when I go to bed, …then at migdnight….2.30 am…5 am or whenever I wake…

    • 6 June, 2011 / 3:44 pm

      I’ve never actually tried a relaxation DVD before, although I do like talking books – since I started my new job with a two hour round trip every day I’ve been down to the library and listened to two whole books already! It makes me feel like I’m doing something half useful at the same time as driving too, which is nice.

  6. Nick
    6 June, 2011 / 8:19 am

    Clearly this is something that goes far deeper; could we be regretting the impending move … ?

    • 6 June, 2011 / 3:43 pm

      Nick! Don’t say that! And why is it clearly something deeper? Do I sound innately mad? :-(

  7. 6 June, 2011 / 9:19 am

    Lists, definitely make lists. List everything, even very, very small things, and break big tasks down so that you can list the individual steps. That way, you get the “achievement buzz” of crossing things off the list, which will spur you to doing more stuff. Also, put music on, it’s distracting in a good way. Good luck!

    • 6 June, 2011 / 3:42 pm

      I do normally like lists but sometimes they scare me a bit, when I can think of way more things to put on a list than I would ever have time to do! Music is always a good one though. I had some very loud Beyonce on this afternoon and may have had a little dance :-)

      • jo
        8 June, 2011 / 10:26 pm

        I read or heard somewhere that you should stick to one room at a time and make piles for other rooms i.e when you find a toothbrush in your living room start making a bathroom pile or a pillow in the kitchen, you make a bedroom pile and stay put until that room is done, instead of wandering from room to room , getting distracted and not achieving a lot which is what I tend to do. I find a really intense horror film a good way of taking my mind of things.

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