Setting small and achievable goals for your PASC symptoms can help you start to reclaim control over your life and start doing some of the things you want to do. You don’t need to cure your symptoms in order to get some relief and return to doing the activities that you enjoy. The goals that you set for yourself can have two benefits: (a) reducing your symptoms and (b) increasing your ability to get things done. For example, you can set goals associated with exercise, creative hobbies, relaxation, socializing, and housework. While specific goals will vary from person to person, identifying goals that are challenging and realistic for yourself is important for managing PASC symptoms.
Setting SMART Goals
Using the acronym SMART is helpful in developing goals that will be effective for reducing your PASC symptoms.
- Specific: Be clear about what you want to accomplish. Measurable: Decide how you will track your progress and adherence toward your goals.
- Attainable: Identify goals that are slightly challenging but achievable. This means your goals may change overtime as your symptoms get better or worse.
- Relevant: Focus on the goals that improve your symptoms and quality of life. Targeted: Determine when and how long you will carry out your plan to manage your PASC symptoms.
The Action Plan
Once you decide what your goals will be, you need to develop an action plan to guide you in reaching your goals. When creating your action plan, you will need to decide what exactly you will be doing, when you will do it, and how often you will do it. Setting up an action plan for your goals makes them more attainable and will help you stick to these goals and eventually reduce your symptoms.
Let's walk through an example together. Pretend you have decided that you want to exercise to help manage some of your PASC symptoms. To give yourself the best chance at success, create your action plan and be specific:
- What: Walk on the treadmill
- When: Every morning at 9 a.m., after waking up
- Duration: 30 minutes
- Intensity: Walking at 3.5 mph speed
- Frequency: 4 days per week
- Evaluation: Stick to this plan for 2 weeks and then re-evaluate your goal
Tips for Success:
- Tell someone who you can trust about your goals to help you stay motivated.
- Plan a reward for yourself for when you achieve a goal.
- When developing your action plan, consider what challenges you may face. Then, brainstorm strategies to overcome these challenges so that you can still meet your goals.
- Listen to your body. If you need a break, then take one. Your goal will still be there when you’re ready to continue.
- Know that setting and achieving goals is a process with ups and downs.