Sometimes life throws a little curve ball and derails your plans for a while.
I’d been experiencing some pain in my right wrist a few weeks before our big climbing trip to Red Rocks Canyon for Thanksgiving, and of course I climbed on it anyway for 3 days outside. Then when we returned home, I continued to climb at the gym for another week or so before finally admitting something just wasn’t right. I worked on it with arnica oil stretching it gently, made sure not to type for really long stretches, and I went to see Andreea, my magic body worker over at Hibiscus Spa. When even she couldn’t completely eliminate the pain, I decided to go to a chiropractor who immediately diagnosed me with tendonitis and said no climbing or TRX for 3 weeks. Ugh. I almost panicked when I heard that I’d be out for at least that long. Reluctantly, I agreed and started the compression/heat/ice + turmeric + magnesium recommended by my chiro and my acupuncturist, and I’ve been going completely stir crazy with relative inactivity.
To be honest, I think this little injury might be my body telling me that it’s time to chill for a while. This time of year, the sun goes down earlier (or stays hidden all day), the days are colder, and here in the Bay Area we’ve been getting a lot of rain. That’s sort of a recipe for chill-time, even if it feels forced by the weather or an injury.
I’ve been working with an acupuncturist on my hand too, and in Traditional Chinese Medicine winter is a time to strengthen the kidneys. This involves rest, looking inward, personal reflection, meditation, writing, and gentle movements like Tai Chi and Qi Gong. I’ve been in the contemplation stages of starting a meditation practice for quite some time now. The furthest I’ve gotten with it is to sit for 10 minutes before I get out of bed. I think I’ve done that a handful of times, but have mostly just hit the snooze button lately. Maybe now’s the time, since even if I do go for a run it will take far less time than climbing does every day. Maybe it’s time to incorporate a few minutes of meditation into my evenings.
Little Voices: Letting go of Fear
I tend to resist letting up on my work out schedule this time of year, no matter how hectic it gets. With all the extra goodies lying around and the desserts that seem to come at the end of every meal shared with friends or family, I can still hear the little voices in my head from long ago telling me that if I let up, I’ll blow up like a balloon. In general, I’d categorize my body image as above average, but that’s after many years of unhealthy self-criticism. Last year, my husband and I were climbing outside on Christmas Eve. It was amazing and not at all motivated by a fear of blowing up like a balloon, but I tell you to illustrate my point (and to show you exactly how frustrating it is to be out for three weeks). But sometimes it just is what it is, and I have to let go of that fear and do the best I can. I can accept that if it’s temporary. (I’m sure you can tell I’m struggling with this.) To be perfectly honest, I use to HATE the phrase “it is what it is,” but I think I understand it more fully now than I have in the past.
Listening to Your Body
Sometimes it feels easier to be tough on yourself than it does to give yourself permission to breathe and relax. We get so wound up with work expectations, family expectations, and personal expectations, that if we slip up, our first reaction is to beat ourselves up about it. This time of year can come with a lot of pressure — some we might not even realize is there until we snap at our partner or have a little road rage over something silly. Just bringing awareness to the possibility that we might be feeling some pressure right now could be what we need to diffuse it. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling aches and pains, if you’re hitting snooze a few more times than normal, if you’re catching yourself with clenched fists, take a break. Talk to a friend. Go to lunch alone and have some quiet time. Take a few breaths, clear your mind, and let yourself relax without judgement or thinking that you should be doing something else right now. We all deserve some time to slow down and reflect.