Jun 27, 2023

Prioritizing Flexibility


There are different facets of self-care. As we grow older, a certain facet takes precedence over others due to life circumstances, new roles, and responsibilities.

For eg,

When you are dealing with a certain lifestyle disorder, taking care of your nutritional requirements becomes a priority.

When you have transitioned to the role of a new parent, getting a few hours of sleep whenever possible becomes a priority.

When you are going through a difficult situation in life, getting a few minutes to take deep breaths and ground yourself becomes a priority.

As I thought about my current priority when it comes to self-care, the word that struck me is FLEXIBILITY. 

Being in my early 40s, flexibility is what I intend to prioritize from a self-care point of view. To be specific, flexibility across four different aspects of life.

Flexibility of body

Due to poor lifestyle choices in my 20s, my body had become extremely tight and stiff. Thanks to Yoga asana practices, I slowly regained my flexibility in my 30s. It is easy to lose flexibility within a few days of being sedentary. I could feel the tightness in my hamstrings, hip muscles and shoulders if I skip Yoga practice for a week. A rigid body becomes the source of unexplained aches and pains. It affects our mobility and our ability to do physical actions. Tasks as simple as sitting down on the floor and getting up becomes a huge challenge.

Flexibility of mind

The famous quote - "Old habits die hard" is not just applicable to physical habits, but also to our repeated mental patterns, conditioning and beliefs. If we don't become aware of them in our 40s, then the conditioning gets hardwired and becomes even more difficult to change in our later years. Becoming aware, questioning and reframing our patterns and beliefs requires one to adopt a flexible mindset. The more rigid we are, the more challenging it becomes not only for ourselves but also for our family members.

Flexibility of time and schedule

In my 20s, it was easier to leave for the office at 8:30 AM and return by 7-8 PM. This was made possible due to fewer responsibilities, a lack of awareness to prioritize self-care, and being oblivious to the repercussions of poor lifestyle choices. When multiple "care" items get added to your to-do list (childcare, elderly care, self-care, pet care, home care etc), a flexible schedule is a MUST to fulfill all responsibilities in good measure. Life becomes quite imbalanced when there is a long, fixed work schedule. Every little time that gets wasted creates more frustration, as the same time can be put to better use in other aspects of life.

Flexibility of strategies to meet my needs

This is a concept I learned in a course on non-violent communication (NVC). Many times, we get so fixated on specific strategies to meet our needs. For eg, the need for contribution can be met in multiple ways but we end up getting fixated on one. For eg, we expect our jobs to allow us to contribute meaningfully to the world, but due to various reasons, that may or may not happen. If a strategy for a specific need isn't working, we should be flexible enough to find alternate strategies to meet our needs.

Does flexibility resonate with you as a facet of self-care that you'd like to prioritize?

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