Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Relaxation Ritual and Other Routines

When I was preparing my body for conception, I did a lot of work around de-stressing my life. I worked on eliminating commitments from my life that drained rather than nourished me. I tried to get into a consistent exercise schedule. I analyzed the link between nutrition and stress and tried to reduce my refined sugar and flour intake. I also cultivated the habit of breathing all the way into my belly on nearly every inhale.

For a month, I also instituted a nightly Relaxation Ritual. At 8:15 every night, I would stop whatever I was doing (I would even leave night meetings early to honor this sacred time in my day!) and spend about 15 minutes restoring our home environment (i.e., picking up stuff that had cluttered our house throughout the day). Then I would do 15 minutes of yoga and spend the rest of my time reading or chatting with Matt before our 9:30pm bedtime.

After successfully implementing this Relaxation Ritual for a month (plus all the other strategies), I was actually able to bring my menstrual cycle to a much more normal/average length. I also felt great.

As I prepare to start the school year next Monday, I want to get back into the habit of setting aside this sacred time as much as possible. It can be so easy to go, go, go right up until bed (or go, go, go right past my bed time!).

I'm also trying to think about what kind of routines I will need to put in place to help me balance my work, all the "work" I do outside of school, plus my pregnancy.

Here's what I'm thinking:
  • 5:30-5:50 = Shower and get dressed
  • 5:50-6:00 = Eat breakfast and journal
  • 6:00-7:15 = Work on school stuff every day
  • 7:15-7:30 = Make my green smoothie and pack up my stuff
  • 7:30-7:40 = Drive to school
  • 7:45-3:30 = School
  • 4:00-4:30 = Nap
  • 4:30-5:30 = Exercise
  • 5:30-6:30 = Blog
  • 6:30-7:45 = Make dinner with Matt and clean up
  • 8:15 = Start relaxation ritual
Of course I'm not going to hold myself rigidly to this schedule every day of my life, but it helps to have it in place. It shows me that I can fit everything into my life in a sustainable and balanced way.

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Ms Bear Cub said...

Keeping a ritual and balance in your daily life is so important - I totally agree with you on this!
I was wondering, though - what's Matt's schedule like, outside of work/school? My husband and I have a very ritualistic breakfast time together, starting when we wake up around 7. It usually takes us around 15 minutes to prepare breakfast (and finish the dishes from the night before), and then we sit down at the table together to eat. Normally this takes at least half an hour. Of course different things work for different people, but I've found that for us this ritual helps us start our day with a more centered feeling - we have time to relax, talk with each other, and of course, laugh at the dog :).

Annie said...

At first, I thought "How in the world does she go to bed at 9:30?" For me it's rather around midnight or 1 o'clock. Then I read you get up at 5:30... FIVE THIRTY... five o'clock in the MORNING!

You are now my healthy lifestyle goddess, I worship your early-bird philosophy, it really inspires me! I'm sure that's part of your secret to being awesome.

Michele said...

But...but...but...When are you going to watch 'The Real Housewives of New York City?' or 'The Bachelorette?' or 'True Blood?!?!?'

Juuuuuust kidding. You're obviously not a TV watcher. :) Out of curiosity: Do you watch the news? Or read the newspaper? I see that there are a few small chunks of unscheduled time in your day, so perhaps you do it then? All I know is that I get totally out of whack real quick like if I don't get my daily dose of what's going on in the world.

I look at your schedule and I think 'wow! I should do something like that!' But I know I won't, and really, probably shouldn't. Maybe a bit more ritual in my life would work, but not to this extent, because I'm a 'fly by the seat of my pants' kind of girl by nature, and any semblance of routine - especially if it feels non-negotiable - makes me feel terribly constricted and panicky.

Ordinarily, this is something I believe to be one of my best qualities - the fact that I'm adaptable enough to wing it and nto stress. But...the drawback is that I definitely waste a good deal of time and am not always particularly efficient.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Michele! No, I don't really watch TV, but Matt and I do watch movies off of Netflix. If we want to watch a movie, then I do that in place of my other ways of relaxing. In terms of news, I skim the NY Times headlines daily (as part of checking my e-mail in the morning). I also listen to NPR in the car or in my classroom when the kids aren't around. And I'm all for spontaneity! I love dropping everything and going on an unexpected date night, for example...

Kate said...

You know what I was thinking Sara... you would be the BEST social worker! I guess teaching is in the same vein, but I can just imagine you getting people's life, finances and health back on track with compassion and efficiency.

I worked for a while with unemployed, desocialized people. What they really needed was someone like you to open their stacked-up mail, make a plan to pay their bills and make a list of things to move forward in life.

Heck, I would need that sometimes too! Thanks for the positive vibes,

Mish in Melbourne said...

I AM a social worker, and reading your schedule inspired me to create my own little relaxation ritual this week - I've made myself a margarita and committed to chillaxing each night this week. It's been a mad week, but that little pocket of tequila-based serenity has been bliss.

Here's cheers to inspiration x

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