Ah resilience - how to fit it in! A really good friend of mine went out for a drink recently. It was one of those nights that ended up with up with us clutching at each other’s hand saying very emphatically ‘NO! You don’t know how amazing YOU are!’ very loudly before wobbling off to buy the type of food that only ever seems like a good idea after one too many glasses of wine.
One of the things the prompted my friend to utter this particular sentence to me was that I’ve taken up yoga again after a break of a few years - and have been consistently attending 2 classes a week for the past few months. We both have kids, demanding jobs, husbands, mortgages and the usual additional demands on our time that come with modern life.
‘You’re amazing.’ My friend said. ‘How do you fit it in?’
I was a bit stumped how to answer. A few months ago, my yoga practice consisted of 10 minutes here and there a few times a week when I remembered. It had been that pathetically inconsistent since my daughter was born almost 4 years ago. During the summer I had ridden my bike at least 3 times per week but during the winter months my body is put into storage along with my sleeveless dresses.
What had changed so that I was now making it to classes twice per week?
I just do it.
OK, that sounds totally over simplistic, but it’s kind of true too. I just hit a point where I was sick of hearing myself dish out advice to other people about building their resilience, handling stress, looking after themselves etc. knowing that I wasn’t really practicing what I was preaching. I knew what we were meant to do on an intellectual level and I did have a pretty good system to managing stress – I eat well (ish – not so much 80/20, more like 75/25!) I’ve become a lot better at stopping when my body/mind tells me I’m approaching a mental red light and need to take a rest. I’ve become much better over the years at shifting my perspective on things so that what seemed problems before are merely irritations at best these days. I’m also pretty good at managing a crisis, as well as pulling back when just on the brink of one.
But in terms of consistently practicing resilience – I was hit and miss at best.
Deciding to do things differently wasn’t as simple as finding a class and rolling up there. When you’ve got kids, a job and limited resources of both time and money you have to be a bit more planned about these things. I managed to find a local gym that had a kids club once per week that happened to coincide the one of my yoga classes. My daughter could go and play games and interact with other small people and if she ever got a bit Mum sick she could press her face up to the glass in the yoga studio and see what I was up to – leading to a few raised eyebrows from the other attendees and a couple of questions from my daughter as to why I was ‘sleeping’ in class. “It’s called meditation sweetie” I said to snorts of derision from my husband. (OK, I might occasionally drop off!)
After class we both go swimming and get some time together before going home wet, tired and happy.
In fact, that class has very quickly become totally guilt free – we both get to have fun so my guilt ridden Mummy brain can get over itself.
And before you start thinking I’m one of those enlightened women who doesn’t ‘do’ guilt - believe me, I’ve a PHD in it. I do guilt with bells on. I went to Catholic schools FGS!
But something clicked - probably out of desperation if I’m honest. But even though it goes against the usual grain, I’m 99% sure that this is the best way to go (and I can handle that 1%)
Resilience is a practice. It requires us to take proactive action on a daily, small way. Like eating your greens or drinking 8 (ish!) glasses of water a day.
We are so good at over-complicating things; So good at letting guilt, busyness and feelings of there always being something more important to be done get in the way of doing what NEEDS to be done.
Remember how the airlines tell you to always put your own mask on in the event of an incident? Well, don’t wait for the incident. Make sure you’re match fit and ready for when the challenges come.