You have probably heard about working with resistance rather than working against it. The analogy of a bow and arrow explains this. To shoot the arrow, you work with the resistance by pulling the bow back and letting the arrow move forward. If we were to work against the resistance of the bow and arrow, the arrow would just fall to the ground and not move forward. This is great example of how working with the resistance, instead of fighting against it, makes shooting the arrow to be successful.
So why do we fight it when it comes to our health issues – our medical health and mental health? I have encountered many individuals who use their health setbacks as a time to mentally beat themselves up, regress in their progress and belief about their abilities, and feel defeated.
Setbacks are discouraging. However, what if we plan for when these occurrences happen instead of punishing ourselves when they do? Some individuals can track when they might have an occurrence based upon time of the year, stress levels, hormonal levels, or anniversary dates - just to name a few. Many cannot track them and feel blindsided when they do occur. Regardless of what is your experience, how about setting up a plan for the next time you have a setback. Do so now, while you are feeling well so you will be ready.
Steps to take to manage a health setback:
1. What helps you when you have a setback? It could be getting some extra sleep, fresh air, listening to certain music, or certain food or beverages. Find a way to add these to your daily/weekly schedule, i.e. make a playlist of your favorite songs, stock up on these foods/beverages so they are available to you, rearrange your schedule (as much as you can) so you can get that extra sleep; plan for a walk or sitting outside so you can get that fresh air.
2. Be nice to yourself. You are already feeling like crap. Don’t add to it by mentally beating yourself up. Our inner critic is never pleasant and especially when we aren’t feeling well! If your inner negative critic is showing up, have a mantra ready that you can keep repeating. Some mantras might be, “This is only a setback”, “It is okay to take care of me”, “Self-care now will help me feel better”, “My goals aren’t unobtainable and are just on hold right now”, or one that you find that works better for you. Write it down. Have it nearby. Read it out loud when not feeling well.
3. Review your goals for that day/week. What can you actually do when not feeling well? Break your goals down smaller if they are too big to handle or too overwhelming when not feeling well. Then, break that goal down even smaller. Make your goals small enough so you can still work towards them and be successful. Our goals are to help us move forward. If your goals add to your feeling of less than and unreachable when you aren’t feeling well, they are too big. For example, if you were supposed to attend a networking event but now cannot get out of bed, you will need to miss the event. One way to break that goal down further would be to connect with those who were going to attend the event. To break that goal down even further, connect with one or two of the attendees by email. This way you are still networking, you can send an email from your bed, and connecting with one person is more than not connecting with anyone.
4. Positive affirmations. Since you already feel awful and your inner critic is probably yelling at you, read through positive affirmations. Make sure you read the statements and do not counter them. Make these affirmations now while you are feeling well. Keep them nearby so when you need them, you will have them.
5. Use your support system. Yes, your support system wants to help you! No, you are NOT a burden! Reach out to someone who is supportive. Make sure your support person is not negative or critical of you. Let them know you are struggling right now and having a setback. Use them as your accountability buddy (which means when you are feeling well, you share your plan with them so they know ahead of time) so they can help you to take care of yourself and keep moving forward even when you don’t feel well.
6. Schedule a session with your Coach. Connect with your coach. That is why you have one! Let her know you are struggling with your health issues and that you do not want to lose your momentum.
It can be frustrating when illness prevents us from our scheduled plans. It is a sign that we need to take care of ourselves. Ride the wave and work with the resistance; not against it. Above all else, use self-compassion to help you get through this episode. It will help you return even stronger.