This week, life threw me a curveball. Due to a freak folk dancing accident, I’m going to be hobbling around for a while. Sucks, right? Yes. But not as much as one might think.
At another time in my life, I would have been a complete emotional mess if something like this happened. Waterworks (tears), worries running rampant in my head, growling at my loved ones. But that’s just not the case right now. Sure, I’m a little worried, and yes, I shed a few tears, but overall I’m pretty mellow.
First of all, it helps that I’m pretty happy with my life right now, and I don’t have any urgent plans that have been thrown into disarray (like, say, moving into a new house or going to a writers’ convention). Second, as disasters go, this one is pretty minor. But those are factors you can’t control, so I’m less interested in them for the purposes of this post.
So what have I learned about dealing with injury and other curveballs?
1. Acknowledge your emotions. First, it’s important to let yourself feel fear, or grief or whatever you need to feel. Share them with someone who’ll listen, too.
2. Let go. I do still have a tendency to worry, but over this summer I’ve been learning that worry will only bring you so far. After that, whatever will happen will happen. Letting go of worry (and your other emotions) requires ongoing practice, but practice does help even the most dedicated worrier. I speak from experience!
3. Prepare as best you can. Now, I’m not suggesting you should Google your symptoms (baaad idea, in case you were wondering). But do the immediate things that need taking care of, and make plans for the medium- and long-term. That will do wonders for #2, too. And once you’re prepared, you can indulge in a little #1 when you need to.
4. Give yourself a breather. If you’re dealing with injury or sickness, give yourself permission to let everything else go for a few days. This includes doing fun things so you don’t obsess. In the four days since I was injured, I’ve been to three health professionals; I’ve also read an entire book and am a quarter of the way through another.
5. Pare down your to-do list. Despite my advice in #4, you can’t keep avoiding the to-do list that you had before the catastrophe. Some of it really does have to get done, and soon. But you have a moment now to step back and think. Which parts of it are actually important? Which parts of it are important to do now?
6. Go slow. Take it easy…no, easier than that. Even when you start to feel better, don’t ramp up again too fast. If you’re like a lot of people, you were swimming as fast as you could go. Don’t push yourself to get back to your former speed too quickly. Even better, don’t get back up there at all.
7. Laugh. I’ve been busy cracking jokes about the dangers of extreme folk dancing. It really does help.
Your turn. What are your best tips for keeping your spirits up in the face of disaster?