Modern life is undoubtedly demanding, and many of us would agree that even the most elaborate self-care routine is not always enough to combat physiological viruses and infections or mental challenges such as feeling low or uninspired. But life always moves forward despite our personal struggles, so how to best proceed and stay resilient when something unexpected happens and leaves us functioning at less than optimal capacity?
I had a great plan for last week; I scheduled in my work, planned my meals and booked my yoga classes and social events. It was all well-balanced because that’s what I need to feel and do my best. The universe, of course, had other plans. When it was time to get going, mid-week, my body could not do it; it ran a sudden high temperature followed by all the other symptoms of the onset of the common cold. With incredible guilt, I canceled my commitments and resolved to rest and sleep it off. And it worked–the next day I felt much better and decided I could (cautiously) get back on schedule even though I was still far from well and my mind insisted I should take a little while longer to recover. To my surprise, that next day went really well which inspired me to think about that elusive mind-body connection.
The mind is there to protect us and keep us safe, but in doing so, it doesn’t fully consider the bigger picture. The body, on the other hand, is our vessel, and it doesn’t explicitly speak in the same way our mind does. Its purpose is to take us through life and to our goals (if that’s our choosing). The two communicate, but the mind usually ends up being the one that’s most listened to because its voice is loudest. This brings about the question of how to truly know the best way forward? My experience has highlighted that there are a handful of specific approaches we could take that make life feel a little more balanced when we are not feeling our best.
This can involve taking an honest account of how you feel and evaluating it regularly. What are your physical symptoms? How are your energy levels? By taking the time to truly think things through, we can begin to dissolve any unhelpful feelings such as guilt or worry. For example, had I taken a thoughtful inventory upon waking up with a fever, my mind wouldn’t have come to the automatic conclusions that resulted in guilt and negative self-talk. Instead, I would have known that resting was the only solution, and feeling guilty would not have done me any good. Being mindful during the second day allowed me to ease back into my regular life commitments and that cycle now continues.
Commitments and appointments are set for specific times for good reasons, but it’s also important to keep a degree of flexibility and a little breathing space. As someone who is self-employed, I know first-hand that life is fluid and circumstances change all the time. Not a week goes by where all my appointments go scheduled exactly as planned! We tend to react to the unexpected with anger or frustration but having scheduling flexibility (as well as “being flexible” in our mind) will go a long way toward dissolving that negativity. When something un-expectant happens, be that an illness or a client cancellation, take a deep breath and consider affirming things with a simple statement such as “I am moving with the flow of life and all is well.”
Be honest in what you communicate to others and consider the depth of that honesty on a case-by-case basis. There are two extremes to canceling a commitment, an abrupt “sorry I can’t make it” or a heartfelt apology with an appropriate explanation. What would you prefer to hear should the tables turn and someone needs to cancel a same-day appointment with you? Honesty also applies to self-talk; are you being reasonable in what you are telling yourself? Practicing mindfulness can be an invaluable tool in reaffirming this.
These approaches illustrate that showing up for life remains entirely possible even when we are unwell. Throwing in the towel may be appropriate sometimes, but there is also much strength to be gained from keeping going when you think you can’t. You can be the judge in deciding on the honestly best way forward.
How do you stay resilient despite difficult patches during your week?
Also by Kristine: 5 Psychologist-Approved Tips for Connecting with Anyone
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