Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, overcoming adversity

Life is a Series of Adjustments

It would be wonderful if life were predictable. You may have behaviors that are predictable, but only within a given context. We don’t have any notion of what tomorrow will bring and I’m not saying that just to be cliché. We can make assumptions about what’s ahead of us, but until we live it there are no guarantees.

Think about when you drive a car. You start to drive and your goal is to keep the wheels straight. In order to do that you make adjustments with the steering wheel. Throughout your drive you’ll make minor adjustments multiple times or you would have crashed into numerous other vehicles.

It seems to me that life works the same way. Within certain parameters we live our lives with a certain degree of certainty. We go to the same coffee shop, exercise at the same gym, or go to the same movie theater. However, what happens when there’s a long line at your coffee shop and there’s another shop around the corner? What do you do when the aerobics class you want to take at the gym is full? These are minor adjustments, but they direct you to different actions.

When facing a challenge whether it is health or some other form of life interruption, adjustments become more the norm than the exception. We find ourselves making adjustments with our time and resources. We modify (an adjustment) our workout routines depending on our energy level. We begin to ask questions that are deeper in nature because we’re looking for a solution to the interruption life has set at our feet.

We have to be careful not to over-adjust. I’ve met numerous people who think the way to solve their challenge is to do a complete 180 in their behavior. It’s important to remember that more is not always better. Minor adjustments may be just the thing to keep your life’s status quo.

It’s not uncommon for us to over adjust when we feel anxious, uncertain, or scared. We’ve been conditioned for the quick fix. This is most prominent in the diet industry where big results in a short amount of time headlines every commercial. Learning to take care of your body is paramount to good health and keeping off the weight. If you don’t learn how to “eat” without the program are you willing to make the “program” your new lifestyle instead of a quick fix?

I wrote a post earlier in the week about the importance of learning. We must learn healthful ways of reducing stress, alleviating pain, or minimizing distress. There are resources such as meditation, journaling, or moderate exercise that relieve stress and allow you to become better acquainted with your body, mind, and spirit.

Watch for those minor adjustments through the day. Be conscious of these adjustments and make sure you don’t drive out of your lane!

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Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Become an Action Hero

It would be great if we could get a call on a special phone, go into a closet and come out with a new and improved persona.  If nothing else we’d get great costumes.  You may not have a secret identity, but you can become an action hero.  Becoming an action hero requires that you stop thinking and start doing.  It’s not enough to think about the changes you want to make in your life and start doing it…take baby steps if necessary but don’t be stuck in analysis paralysis.

Small changes can make a big difference.  If you’re looking at changing your eating habits and the idea of a diet (to improve coronary function, reduce cholesterol, reverse diabetes) then start modifying your food choices.  Men’s Health Magazine always has a feature titled “Eat this, not that”.  They will often compare similar food items and tell you which is the better choice.  Having the information, not calling it a diet and feeling a sense of control improves your chances at making long term modification and healthier choices.

For exercise maybe you don’t have to go to the gym.  Bob, the trainer on “The Biggest Loser” recommends that when you go to the store or mall, park as far as possible from your destination and walk.  This doesn’t require long-term gym memberships or expensive equipment, it takes being conscious of where you park.

When it comes to rest many stopped taking naps when they were babies.  Let me tell you how I feel about naps.  I believe they are one of the most self-indulgent actions on the planet and I fully support them.  Now it may not be possible to take a nap during the week, but look at the weekends.  The truth is you can’t ever make up for lost sleep.  Sleep is a perishable commodity, once it’s gone it can never be recovered.  But you can give yourself the advantages that come with sleep, like rejuvenating your body, giving yourself the opportunity to reduce stress and anxiety and to renew your enthusiasm for the day.

Small actions can have big results.  Change is difficult and if you take it in small steps the big actions are sure to follow.  If you need encouragement create an Avatar (comic like character) with you as a superhero, print it out and marvel at all you can accomplish.