We had some pretty nasty wind last week that left thousands without electricity. Our household was one of them – for three days. The source of most of the outages? Trees falling onto the power lines. We are privileged to have outstanding linemen who work tirelessly to restore power once it’s lost, and for that, I’m extremely thankful!
We have a lot of extremely tall trees all around us, and as I sat watching them Saturday, I was amazed at just how much they wave and bend when those 50-mile-per-hour winds hit them. As they were dancing, I started thinking about their flexibility and how, because they were flexible, they weren’t breaking. Because they were able to “go with the flow” of the wind, they were able to weather the storm unscathed. They were resilient.
“1. they power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; 2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; buoyancy.”
Those of us who live with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness know that we are not likely to recover, but we can become more resilient, more able to return to our normal after a flare or after we temporarily depart from our self-care plan by building more flexibility into our lives.
Here a just a few suggestions for becoming more flexible:
- Determine your priorities. I know you may be thinking that this is a no-brainer, but unless we intentionally determine what our priorities will be for each day we can easily get caught up in what Stephen Covey calls the “tyranny of the urgent” in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Having our priorities clearly in mind helps us to say “no” to those things that may pop up that, although they clamor for our attention, are not that important in the grand scheme of things. In their outstanding book Organize Tomorrow Today, Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow say, “In our experience, those who enjoy the most success are the ones who do the best job prioritizing the day’s activities and accomplishing the most important tasks–not the greatest number of tasks.”
- Don’t schedule yourself too tightly. In order to have flexibility, we have to build it into our schedules. Most of us know about the financial principle of paying ourselves first. We have to do the same thing with our schedules–we need to build in some “me” time throughout the day. That way, if things take longer to accomplish, or appointments run long, we don’t get stressed and pressed for time.
- Realize you don’t have to adhere perfectly to your self-care plan. Sometimes the things we’re trying to do for our self-care can turn into one of our biggest stressors. If we start to think we have to eat perfectly every meal, or we can’t miss a stretching or exercise session, or whatever other things we do for our wellbeing, we start to put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves, and can become so rigid that we see any deviation from the plan as “messing up.” This can knock us off-course, and in some cases, cause us to give up on our wellness initiatives completely.
- Embrace new ways of looking at things. Learn to look at circumstances, especially those challenging ones, through a different lens. Have you ever used a macro lens on your camera? It’s a lens that takes extreme closeups and blurs out everything else around whatever you’re taking a photograph of. Sometimes we can start to see our circumstances through a lens like that and not be able to see any other way of dealing with whatever is going on. If we can just step back and take a more long-range view, if we can look at it in a different way, we can see things that we couldn’t when we were so close to the problem.
Becoming more flexible can help us become more resilient, more likely to bend than to break, and more capable of living our best life.
Has being flexible helped you become more resilient? How do you build flexibility into your schedule? Please share!
** A side note….In the photo above, the bent tree is the Grandpa Tree that I talked about previously, bent and gnarled, but still standing strong. The one resting on it came up by the roots and fell right over into Grandpa’s arms.