Today's #WellnessWednesday was lovely. Great company. Wonderful conversation. Such an incredible joy. We talked about rhythm and routine. Funny thing is that this goes against my nature. I am a classic Sagittarius in that I love to roam, go new places and try new things, full of adventure and am always seeking new experiences. This causes me to quite literally wander in my thoughts and presence. Everything is interesting to me and so I keep moving, learning, and exploring.
My love for nature brings me some rhythm and routine. My perfect day is spent walking trails at a State Park, particularly Eagle Creek or Prophetstown. There isn't a bad time honestly. I'll go in the morning, later in the evening, during the heat of summer, the rain, or even in the bitter cold. When I was lost a few years ago, burn out and miserable, I couldn't identify with who I was or what I wanted in life for myself, so I thought back on who I was as a child and essentially all of my good memories were those of me outside. I would play in the creek, dig in the mud, explore the woods, talk to the tree fairies, and gather animals in need of my care. I was an avid collector of acorns and could lay and look at the sky, endlessly finding hope and encouragement in the shapes of the clouds or whisper in the trees.
I began hiking and once again found my element. It was on the trails that I began to process my past hurts and traumas. I could start to feel my anxiety grow or even a panic attack coming and I'd hit the trails. When your feet hit the ground on a trail, you have to pay attention enough that you don't fall or get lost, but you can also coast enough that you can dive in and process your thoughts. While many times I would start overwhelmed and anxious, even angry, after a few miles I would begin to settle. I'd begin looking out beyond the trails and find peace and tranquility again. Most always, as I rolled with my worries, I would come to a satisfactory answer and would feel safe again. Nature can help you really look at yourself, and call you out while also loving you completely. The trails are where I go for sanity, strength, and spiritual connection.
Sundays have become about walking the red trail at Eagle's Creek. It's about eight miles and about two good hours. There aren't any issues I can't work out on that trail. There also something healing about repetition and rhythm; in fact, it is the only thing I do over and over again, without change. When I am overwhelmed, this is my easiest fix. The funny thing is that once I found this rhythm, I started to also find rhythm in my sleep. Previously, I would catch a second wind about 11pm (true Pitta) and stay up while the world was quiet being productive until I was completely exhausted and only hours before I needed to be up again. Today I know I must be in bed before this wind arrives. Now I wake up without an alarm, early enough I haven't used an alarm for years. I even wake up rested and ready to embrace the day. This past year I've lost ten pounds and the only thing I've really altered was adding ballroom dancing, although I've sacrificed some yoga time for this new passion. Admittedly, I think my weight loss has been about my commitment to sleep.
Today I am recognizing that my body guides me more often. I feel hungry and tired, whereas in years prior, I didn't recognize hunger during the day until I was absolutely vamished. I almost never felt fatigue, because I was working on adrenaline most of the time. Even though I could stay up for days on end in years prior, waiting for the birth of a child, today I really struggle to stay up until 11pm. In fact, this is part of the reason I have minimized my birth attendance. My body demands that I prioritize my sleep.
Follow the Trail
If we find a path of rhythm and routine that works for our bodies and lives, we can reap great rewards and this can be a surprisingly powerful act of Extreme Self-Care. Routine adds stability to our lives and helps us feel more secure. It also provides much-needed relief from mentally managing too many responsibilities. While I say that my nature is to steer away from routine, there are a few I embrace when I think on it. I do tend to use the same hair stylist over and over, for years on end. The kids and I almost always soaked in the tub before bed. I shower each morning. Feeding the dog and walking him seems to be at about the same time each day. Many of my professional meetings occur at the same time each week. Holidays are celebrated in about the same way each year.
These routines become rhythms by which you live and plan your life. The benefits often affect you in ways you might not expect. For example, when your bedtime and wake up are in a regular rhythm, your adrenal system can stabilize, which ultimately regulates your hormones more effectively. A balanced body helps to create a balanced mind. As a result, peace and order begin to replace the chaos and frantic energy of a busy life. My partner, Jeremy, meets with his work colleagues every Friday for tacos. This gives them a sense of connection and community that feels meaningful and fulfilling.
When we think about cycles of nature: seasons change, the sun rises and sets every day, tides flow in and out, and the moon moves through her rhythm. Find this within yourself. Refuse to let your busy life disrupt that need for balance. Don't let yourself eat at all hours of the day and night. Generally we feel best when our biggest meal is during the middle of the day, rather than the evening. This would allow you more time in the evening, as well, to walk, hike, or lift weights. Make this your family time, rather than centering that time around food.
Don't sacrifice sleep. Media, electronics, and noise can be exhausting. When we are out of our routine, our mind can get confused, foggy, and forgetful. When our ability to concentrate is disrupted, our mood shifts dramatically and our energy levels wax and wane. Digestion and elimination even gets disrupted and impaired when get out of sync with our internal cycles. Meditate. Allow yourself time to think on your habits and pay attention to your thoughts and actions. Write in your journal. Walk more. Spend time with people who allow you and accept you as you are, all the time.
When you schedule your work and professional life, this offers your mind time to relax and rest. However, it is helpful to also set up time in which you are not disturbed, without energy-zapping distractions. Take time in the morning to plan your day. Allot specific times for checking email and voicemail so you aren't controlled by these demands. Give yourself twenty minutes before you leave work or home to tie up loose ends. If you feel overwhelmed, you may need to make time for grounding a priority.
Wellness Wednesday Challenge
What one routine could you put into place this month that would improve your life the most? Think quietly and think on this. Share with us in the comments. We'd love to hear what you plan to implement. What comes to mind first? Put this in writing; maybe write it on your mirror. Create a plan to put this into place and do it, practicing it for the next thirty days. My plan, I am going to re-establish a routine of meditating in the morning for just ten minutes and walking three miles daily beyond my average daily steps. I am also going to listen to SoniCaid while I sleep, which I found free on Pandora. It's really beautiful music that is not only super relaxing, but scientifically designed to promote the delta brainwave activity that is essential for a good night's sleep. There are some specific to sleep, and other specific to deep relaxation.
Once you've had this in place for a week, ask yourself how it impacted you. Did you feel less overwhelm? Did it enhance your life in anyway? Do you feel more grounded, more balanced? Are you more productive? Do you feel less anger and frustration? Keep track of these habits in your journal or use Strides, a habit track app.
Members! Join us next Wednesday at noon. We have another challenge for you!