Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Taking Action! Building a Routine to Crush Your Stress and Get Your Body Into Balance

So...like many of you (hopefully ALL of you) hubby and I are doing the quarantine/social distancing thing. 

 Social Distancing Corona Covid-19 - Free photo on Pixabay

We are working from home, sharing space and internet bandwidth, and trying to figure out how to make this "always at home" thing work. 

After the first couple of weeks, I began to notice that my work/play lines got blurred, my late afternoon snacks led to me eating WAY later at night, and that led me to going to bed later, which led to me getting up later the next morning.  And then getting up later the next morning made me feel stressed that I didn't have enough time in the day to get everything done. I started feeling really off kilter.  And grumpy.  I knew I had to do something about it. 

 Bitmoji Image
So for those of you who know me, you know I like to experiment.  I do a lot of health experiments on myself. I do some research and then try something out. It's kinda fun to learn about your body and what works for you and what doesn't.

At this point, I figured the most important thing would be to get back into a good sleep cycle and I had remembered that there was a chart in TCM that had recommended hours for sleeping/waking according to the rhythms of our body.   

BTW, did you know your body has a rhythm?  You probably know a bit about the Circadian Rhythm, but did you know that many systems in your body follow rhythms that are responsible for your overall health?  Your brain, your adrenals/hormones, your gut...they all have times when they are supposed to be active, times when they should be restful, and times when they are washed/rejuvenated/detoxified.   

So I thought back to a TCM chart I had seen.  I remembered that it showed how the Meridians (Energy Channels) and Organ Systems in the body correspond to particular times of the day/night.  Here's an example of the chart:

This chart was borrowed from a website that had great examples of
how symptoms can be decoded using this TCM Body Clock.  You can
find it here
Pretty neat, huh?  

So my thought was, create a routine at least loosely based around the TCM Body Clock (which corresponds closely with the Western Med perspective of when your brain, gut, and hormones should be active/inactive) and go from there.

So this is my experiment. 

I made a schedule--I wrote in when I would get up, when I would eat, when I would work, when I would work out, and when I would relax...and wrote specific tasks for each section.  This way my sleep schedule and eating schedule would get back on track, and there would be a clear line between work hours and play hours.  ('Cuz when you work from home and you don't write in your "play hours" ALL hours become work hours...OR you feel guilty when you take "time off"...and who needs guilt right now?  No one.).   

My plan is to have basically the same schedule Mon-Fri and then make the weekend different by making work time into other tasks--planting, organizing, going for walks, playing games, playing an instrument, doing art, doing laundry, meal prepping, exercising, socializing via zoom...whatever! 

So here's a rough WEEKDAY schedule (which then becomes a detailed schedule--I DO write in my work tasks, exactly what my workout will be, and what my "relax" or "fun" tasks will be).

6:00 AM     Wake up, Drink warm lemon water, Workout/Meditate
7:15 AM:    Shower, Feed/Walk Dog, Eat Breakfast, Tidy the Kitchen
9:00 AM:    Work (I would list each task here! Water breaks as needed!)
12:00 PM:   Lunch Break, Walk the Dog (if needed)
1:00 PM:    Work (Tasks go here!  Don't forget!  More water/herbal tea at 3:00!)
5:00 PM:    Make Dinner, Feed/Walk the Dog, Eat dinner, light exercise (probably just a                       little walk), clean kitchen
7-9  PM:     Relaxation/Fun Time!  (Write in what that means, or else you're likely to do                     more work!)
9:45 PM:    Bedtime Routine (Write in what calms you down!)
10-11 PM:  Go to BED!

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That's it! I've only been doing the schedule for two days.  So far, so good.  I feel less stressed, for sure...mostly because routines make things feel "normal" and lately, as you know, life has been far from "normal" for most of us.  So routines are good.  Also, I am happy getting up earlier as it makes me much more productive.  And being productive makes me feel good.  And when I feel good, I'm much less grumpy.  So again, so far, so good!  

I will keep you updated!

Let me know if YOU try a routine/schedule!  I'd love to hear your observations too!

Sending hugs!

A little advice...if you decide to create a schedule/routine, please don't beat yourself up if your schedule gets thrown off.  Life happens!  We do the best we can with the time we have!  If things get goofed up a little, it's ok!  Tomorrow is a new day!!

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