This Sunday I’m piloting a Sunday yoga online “retreat” during the morning hours (central time) via Zoom conferencing. I’m offering a free class to anyone who wants to join my yoga enthusiast mailing list. Write to the email below, and I’ll send you the Zoom link information.
If you want to support Healing Within Acupuncture & Wellness Studio, to ensure that affordable acupuncture is available when we re-open again, we have a sliding fee policy and you can pay what you can afford. I realize times can be tough for people right now. We’ve got you. Do what you can. We understand.
Set some intentions for self-care for this upcoming month. Whether you are in service to your family, your work, your community or all of the above, you deserve to take good care of your body and soul.
And if you are suffering from screen fatigue, rest assured. I will verbally cue this session, with optional screen demonstrations to create your yoga “home studio” with props made from what you have at home. Bring a few blankets, towels and pillows for maximum comfort!
Content here first appeared on Linked in on April 14, 2020. It has been edited for WordPress and re-formatted.
Are you feeling like your head is busy and your body is unsettled?
Maybe you are trying to work from home, and it now seems like all you do is work…
Or maybe you are managing children’s “school at home” schedules and you are also expected to get work done.
With the uncertainty and virus concerns, many of us exist in a new reality. Even if we might worked at home before now and then, now we are possibly sharing space with more people.
We don’t necessarily have the “commute bumper” of our day to delineate starting and stopping anymore. For some of us, maybe the dining room is now our makeshift office. Pets or children may interrupt us many times a day, not understanding that it’s a Tuesday, not a weekend!
It does not help that the news can be grim, and that we worry about the state of our health, our loved ones, and of just how the world will “recover” from such a disruption. While we may be able to focus on certain aspects of our work during the day, we cannot totally keep from wondering… what is next?
During this period of collective upheaval and change it is important to schedule self-care into our day. I’m writing this while snow swirls outside in Minnesota as we speak. So while a walk would be lovely and I highly encourage that as a routine for before or after your workday, or after lunch, it does not always appeal.
Other things you can do include taking a break and making a cup of tea, and allowing yourself to step away from your desk. Grab a journal and write out your thoughts, or draft a screenplay scene with yourself as the protagonist.
If you’re like me, you will add yoga or other movement as part of your day. There are onlineNIA classes you might take. Perhaps some quiet meditation or listening to some soothing music will help you calm and center. Or engaging your creativity by getting out the paints or even some play-doh (remember kindergarten?) will give your mind a rest.
Whatever you decide to do, realize that these self-care activities are not optional. They are not frivolous, because they provide a respite from our left hemispheric thinking, which can be unrelenting. While thinking and problem-solving are wonderful aspects of our human capacity, over-emphasis can lead to anxiety, a focus on doing rather than being, and sometimes even insomnia.
I wish you well. I hope you experiment with and discover the activities that nourish your whole self, and nurture calm, clarity and resilience. I would love to hear about your favorite ways to relax in the comments below!
Take much care,
P.S. If you have not already found online yoga options and want to join a live community of people via Zoom to practice restorative or slow flowyoga online, please join my email list (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get a free class offer. Or you can sign up for asliding fee yoga class here. No prior experience necessary. Thank you for your interest!
Now that the excitement of this midterm election has come to a close, it is time to rest and digest. After all the “aerobic” energy of the campaign and election season, and as we process the results, we must enter a season of pausing and reflecting.
I am relieved this election cycle is over. Some of the returns have yet to be finalized but I am happy to see that the turnouts were high, and more women were voted into office than ever before.
Though I did not get to bed very early because I was still watching election returns, I know I will need some down time to recover this week. I identify as an introvert, so I am aware of my need for more down time than the average person. I have found that if I approach life in terms of cycles of intense activity followed by adequate rest, I am able to make better decisions for the long-term.
Maybe it is a product of age or maturity but I feel like it is easier to see the big picture than it used to be. I recognize that it is necessary to regroup and recharge between the intervals of intensity. As it turns out, this is how we best deal with stress in our lives. Stress in itself is not bad, and is in fact necessary in a healthy life.
But chronic and unrelenting stress for long periods take a toll on our bodies, our immune systems and our mental health as well. So take a break, gather your energy, allow some time for reflection and recovery. We will live and be stronger in case we need to “fight” another day for important causes that matter to us.
On Wednesday I had an interview for a technology company that I like, but in a retail environment that would be a different experiences for me. On paper, it seemed very exciting. I liked considering the advantages of this part-time opportunity. I believed it would allow me to ramp up my other efforts a little more mindfully and without rushing.
The interview went well, and I even advanced to the next round with a higher leader in the organization. But as I was considering the nature of the work environment, and my preference for adequate personal space and solitude in every day, my body felt a noticeable depletion of energy rather than excitement.
I’d been excited the day before about getting called so quickly for the in-person interview after the phone interview. I am eager to learn the technology, and to help people use it better, the original reason I pursued the position. Also, they were seeking bilingual Spanish speakers and it would be an opportunity to keep my skills sharp. But the thought of an 8-hour shift “out in the open” on a retail floor made me feel drained and tired.
That is okay. I would not necessarily have been able to visualize and imagine myself in the setting to consider whether it is a fit without actually being there and observing. My body is giving me signals to help me figure out the next steps for myself. Typically when I pay attention to my energy levels, and move in the direction where the energy lifts rather than falls, I am happier.
I thought that learning and practicing sales and marketing techniques would be good for my own business. But there are other ways to do this, and I will not give up on that idea.
This week, most U.S. states (except Arizona and Hawaii) will go through the process of the Spring time change. I typically go on an annual rant to my facebook friends about how much I dislike the twice annual time change, especially this one when we lose an hour of sleep. We lose daylight in the morning, and as a morning person I dislike having to get started in the dark again.
For many people, I realize this is a minor annoyance. But for those of us with more sensitive sleep schedules, messing up our circadian rhythms causes real health issues. On Mondays after the start of DST there are typically more workplace injuries and tiredness at the clock change is the cause of more traffic accidents. A Swedish study found that the risk of heart attack increases for the first 3 days following the switch to DST.
So what is there to do with all of these annoying and also potentially serious consequences?
I would very much like it if we abolished the switch, and just used the DST schedule year-round. The energy savings we supposedly gained a century ago when this madness started are no longer relevant. I believe the health risks associated with changing the clocks really are not worth it. Also, it makes things more complex when we exist in a global world with some countries changing time, others not.
But since I am not necessarily able to gather the political will to make this happen, I instead decided a few years ago to declare a “be kind to myself and to others” week. Since I know I will be a bit sleep deprived for a few days, and my body doesn’t like the disruption, I do other things to make sure I take care of myself. I go to yoga, often I schedule a massage, I eat a lot of healthy food and drink plenty of water. I use compassion with myself and realize that if I am tired and cranky, my body needs patience and understanding.
I consider the fact that Spring is indeed arriving, and the light is increasing. I acknowledge that while I need to wake up in the dark for a few more weeks, having a bit more light in the evenings is nice. I try to take it easy on myself, knowing that I love Spring, but seasonal changes can be hard on anyone, and routines need mindful adjustment.
I allow myself to be a little “lazy” at work, by working from home the Monday after the change, and appreciate the privilege I have in doing so. In a week, things will be better. I typically adjust in about 3-5 days, and my cats do so as well, and things will even out.
If others you meet are tired and cranky this week, it helps to remember that some people may feel this change more acutely than we might. Make an effort to go easy on them as well if you can.
I think we can all benefit from declaring a “Be Kind to Yourself” week this time of year, especially to those of us coping with the change. Why not? We should be kind and compassionate on a daily basis more anyway. Let’s just kick it off this week with some mindful and intentional care of ourselves this week. We deserve it.
I have not yet read the book by Thomas Moore bearing the title “Dark Nights of the Soul” but I just added it to my Amazon list. Perhaps the universe is nudging me in that direction. This concept that rises up now and then as I try to anticipate changes ahead.
Lately I have been struggling with some insomnia, despite my commitment to get more sleep and the strategies I have put in place to help me do that. I power down my devices by 8:30 p.m. and try to get myself “wound down” by reading a book (an actual paper book), taking my magnesium and 5-htp supplements and leaving my electronics outside the bedroom.
All of those things help, to be sure. But sometimes my brain still gets stuck in the “on” position. I meditate, I try watching my thoughts and letting go. I try breathing exercises, with nice long exhales to activate my parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” part of the body. And still: the brain latches onto things and spins them.
I trust that someday I will get better at this, and I am practicing the skills to help me get the rest I need. I have struggled with insomnia since my teen years, I think, when anxiety about school or other issues crept into my consciousness. My Dad used to tell me how I needed my sleep, that I would have a heart attack if I did not sleep adequately. I was a skeptic back in those days, and I knew this was extreme. So I did what all teenagers do: ignore their parents’ warnings.
I have always enjoyed mornings, apparently since I was a tiny baby, and my Mom tells me I was a bit colicky after eating. But I always woke up with a smile, and I guess that persists to this day. Well, most days. As long as I have my coffee…
Instead of tossing and turning in bed and waking up my poor husband, I typically go out to the living room and journal things out. It’s a “thought download” of sorts, and I hand write all those spiraling thoughts, to empty out my head and externalize them. It is a practice recommended by psychologists. It can help, but my brain is a determined little monkey.
Reading fiction books is also helpful. But when they are too good? That can be a problem. Liane Moriarty was my “drug” of choice last night, but her books can be too engaging so I suppose that backfired a bit. I finished re-reading Truly Madly Guilty last night and enjoyed it as much as the first time I’d read it. It is a bit of a mystery, you see, and I wanted to see if I could appreciate the craft of the story as much as I had the first time, now knowing the ending.
But I digress…
I tend to do that a lot when I’m sleep-deprived.
What I do now thought, instead of beating myself up for not mastering the process of getting good sleep EVERY night is to acknowledge I am getting better at it. No, I have not mastered it, but with practice we all get better at skills. Humans are fabulously adaptable creatures, when we let go of the need to control everything (which does not work anyway).
So I am going to offer myself patience and kindness. I am going through a transition right now, and there may be a few dark nights of the soul. And that’s okay, I will get through them just fine.