A low angle view of a building

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Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Maintaining flexibility while retaining structure? Structure defines the parameters of your life while organization is what makes it work. The result: greater flexibility

This gorgeous building is a terrific example of architectural flexibility. Structurally sound, carefully organized.

According to Wikipedia, this structure, Exzenterhaus, Bochum, Germany – Designed by architect Gerhard Spangenberg is a cylindrical bomb shelter that stands 22 metres and was constructed in 1942. The structure was built with 520 beds and 52 seats but would accommodate more than 3,000 people during air raids on Bochum. In 2009, the building was sold, and re-construction completed in 2013. It rises 15 stories above the top of the bunker and at an overall height of 90.5 meters, it is the tallest building in Bochum. The name, Exzenterhaus, literately means “eccentric house” in German, which itself is derived from the latin phrase “ex centro”, meaning off-centre.

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to our discussion. How do you maintain flexibility to lead a more stress-free life? How do you manage the anxiety that often accompanies change?

In life, as in work, rigidity is the opposite of creativity. One partner says, “Let’s take out a loan so we can accomplish our goals.” The other thinks, “We talked about this. We said, no debt!” Clearly a standstill unless they can both agree on how to work out a compromise. Perhaps they decide to look at all the ways they might find an answer that satisfies them both.

Being flexible doesn’t mean giving up something. Rather, it’s a mindset- an openness to new ideas and ways of thinking. It’s saying, ‘yes, and’ instead of no thank you. Often negative thinking is reflexive.

How can we avoid the negative, thereby enriching our lives with new opportunities? How do we release the hold anxiety has on us?

Here are a few tips from the ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America).

Flexible-based Strategies

  • Take a time-out. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
  • Eat well-balanced meals. Try healthful, energy-boosting snacks.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine. They aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
  • Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep.
  • Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health.
  • Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary.
  • Do your best. Stop aiming for perfection, be proud of how close you get.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective.
  • Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Get involved. Volunteer or find a way to be active in your community.
  • Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else? Look for patterns.
  • Talk to someone. Tell friends and family you’re feeling overwhelmed and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.

From experience, there are two other approaches that lead to less stress at work:

  1. Be clear on your values. Making multiple decisions everyday can be stressful. If you live by a set of values that govern your choices, suddenly decisions are easy to make.
  2. Plan your work.  When you know what you will do each day to progress towards your goals, you will find that the day flies, causing you less stress and helping you feel more accomplished when the day is over.

A spiral staircase with a plant inside

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Life rarely goes in a straight line. The more flexible you are, the more resilient you become. And, resiliency leads to new directions, unknown adventures and a more fulfilling life.

Earlier I said, ‘Structure defines the parameters of your life while organization is what makes it work’. Many people find it works to 1) develop a morning routine and 2) that you determine when you do your best work and time it to coincide with your most productive time.

I believe we need to set guidelines – not rigid ones. Instead set an approximate time for when you can exercise, when it’s optimal for us to wake up and plan to go to bed. How much time you have is a function of organizing around the structure that is your day. And it’s true that then we naturally, experience more energy, productivity, and creativity. All of which lead to less stress and more time for fun.

My wish for you is that you go through your day fulfilled. That, at the end of the day, you look back and say, “Wow. I really enjoyed today.”

The clearer you are on the structure that works for you, and the more you organize around that structure, the closer you will get to living the life that works best for you!

Do you wish your days could be less stressful and more productive? Grab my book, Taming Time, and find out how easy it is to de-stress your life. Or, contact me at gail@gailzelitzky.com. I’m happy to coach you.