When faced with a challenging situation in life, one that requires us to overcommit, we all like to think we will thrive. The optimistic nature of human beings is truly wondrous. We are able to take on the world and achieve greatness. But are we missing the one key element of true success?
What ever the challenge may be, accepted a job promotion, decided to jump in and start up your own creative business or unexpectedly finding out twins are on their way, there lies an important but often forgotten opportunity. An opportunity to keep your health in working order in times of overcommitment and not letting it dissipate into the realm of 'use to be's' and 'I once was'. Because frankly, without health, its hard to thrive.
We excel numerous times over in a lifetime, in many amazing ways, but has anyone ever ask you this question when you are in the heat of overcommitment?
"Hey Larry, how's your bowel function? ..Oh and Larry, did you eat your bircher this morning, before your morning yoga class, and after your 15 minutes of meditation. Like you do every day?"
No. They instead, and rightfully so, engage in deep admiration for the amazing feat you are undertaking. "Wow, three kids, a full time job and you want to start your own cupcake making business. I am in awe!"
So what happens to the health of a serial over-commiter?
Health often becomes a private matter that you end up dealing with on your own, the good and the bad. You may have given up all your good habits 10 months ago, and sometimes no one knows it. Health often lags, becomes our number 2 or even 3 priority and we may even loose sight of ourselves. You might put on a couple of kilo's, your skin isn't as glowing as it use to be and bloating becomes the norm. Health diminishes as commitments flourish.
Jill loves yoga, she attends 3 classes per week and sometimes a weekend class too. She also loves cooking up big slow cooked meals for her week ahead, sitting down to an afternoon of knitting and seeing her friends at the farmers markets. She feels pretty good about her health and hasn't ever really complained. Jill then falls pregnant with twins! Three years on Jill refers to herself as past Jill and current Jill. I use to love going to yoga, creating in the kitchen and knitting scarfs for my friends. Now I just don't have the time. I haven't been to a yoga class in 2 years. I feel exhausted all the time, I am constantly bloated and I just don't feel me.
Jack grew up in a small town, moved to Sydney at age 18 and enjoyed being active, catching up with friends for a soccer match on the weekend, followed a wholefoods diet and most weekends would get out for a canyoning trip in the mountains. Jack is also a entreprenuer at heart and at age 22 jumped into a start up and basically killed it (in a good way). He is now involved in 3 start ups, works from a high stress co space in the city and rarely sleeps. Usually now it's take away thai in the office for dinner and catching up with friends for a beer or 10 on the weekend. He looks back at his old self fondly but much prefers the fast paced lifestyle he has created now, although he gets sick all the time and hasn't touched a vegetable since 2013.
What both Jack and Jill have in common is they skipped over one very important concept that could have maintained their health. Adaptability.
Adaptability: is the ability to change or be changed in order to fit or work better in some situation or for some purpose : able to adapt or be adapted.
This applies to health, 100%. Both Jack and Jill had the opportunity to make slight changes during their stressful time so to not loose sight of themselves or their health. However they didn't adapt.
So what does adaptability look like?
"Ok, I can't get to the gym today, instead I will go for a half an hour run to the grocery store and back" That way its, two birds, one stone.
"Sorry I can't catch up with you for dinner tonight, I'm working back, why don't you come to the produce markets with me on Saturday?" This way its keeping healthy and keeping social.
There should be no on and off button to your health. The notion of 6 week cleanses and green smoothies detoxes are old news. If one adapts to a given situation, maintaining their health by making incremental changes along the way, they thrive. Detox's and 48 hour flushes are out, maintaining health is in.
So how do we become adaptable when over-commited? (practical advice)
1. Own a journal and write in it daily
Write about your experiences. What have you done today that was different to yesterday? How are you feeling? What are your plans for the next week? Through knowing and accepting every twist and turn life throws at you, you will be in a better position to adapt and therefore maintain your health. Constantly re-evaluate your set point. Something like a Moleskine diary or a Passion Planner work perfectly, or for the tech savvy you may want to try evernote.
2. Talk about and brainstorm your challenge with those who care about you
If you don't talk about it, did it really happen? Things just seem clearer when we vocalise them. Your friend doesn't even have to respond and suddenly you have clarity just from speaking the words. Find yourself an accountability buddy, someone who will keep you on track and check in with you when you need it the most.
3. Know what you like, know what you dislike in the context of health
What underlies the ability to be adaptable is the ability of self knowingness. Ok so you can't play basketball this week, what are the 4 other sports you love doing? Be flexible, adapt, don't stop. If you don't have your top 5's sorted in all areas of health, I suggest you get brainstorming today.
4. Accept the situation as it is
Sometimes change and challenges are not chosen by us, they are thrust upon us. No matter the situation, if you do not accept it as it is, you will not be able to adapt. Acceptance is key.
5. Keep positive
No matter the circumstance, good or bad, it is important to keep your cool and stay positive. This lowers your overall stress which leaves you feeling in control. Jump back to tip 4 and roll it up in a nice little package with keeping positive and you have yourself a winning combination. Mindfulness practice is great for this. You may wish to start with the meditation add - headspace.
'It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change'
- Charles Darwin.
Join the new generation who are kicking but in life by prioritising their health. Because if you place health above everything else, keep it as your number one priority, good things will come and you will thrive.
And in closing, a suitable quote that sums it all up...
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy"
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jennifer Ward, Adv dip Nat, BCom Econ, Masters Repro Med (studying)
Jennifer is a qualified naturopath with a focus on fertility, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances.
Learn more about Jennifer here
Book a session with Jennifer here
To learn more about how to avoid being an over-committer or for speaking enquires on this topic get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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