“If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.” ~ Win Borden
Recently my life became all about my schedule. Any blank spot on my iCal existed only to be filled - with work, dinner, a movie, a haircut, an appointment at the Apple Store to learn how to better use my iCal. I reveled in the idea that by organizing my time with rules and schedules, I was making myself more productive. My system was ingenious - it even had a color code for Happy Health Terrie Time, during which I was supposed to relax before moving on to the next scheduled item.
My system seemed to be working - until I noticed how often I was saying, “I’m so busy.” Talking with people who weren’t on the schedule seemed overwhelming, so I stopped answering the phone and began to ignore emails. I grew so tired that workouts began to drop off my schedule - which I justified by telling myself that if I didn’t have a session with my trainer exercising wasn’t actually on the calendar anyway.
Then I began to hear a little voice in my head, offering the same gentle reminder I so often give to my clients. “Listen to your body. What is it telling you?” As soon as I tuned in, it was obvious that I had been ignoring a message for quite some time. My mounting fatigue was practically an SOS call from my distressed body, whose demands I had pushed aside whenever they didn’t fit into my schedule.
I started blocking off whole days - color coded of course - with the word Nothing. The beauty of the Days of Nothing was that they left me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do, right in that moment. I would relax if I wanted to relax, work if I wanted to work, go to the movies if that was what struck my fancy. Most importantly, I would be doing what I had decided to do right then, not a week or even an hour before. What I needed was spontaneity.
Interestingly enough, rather than leaving me with more work piled up, the Days of Nothing increased my productivity. Having removed the idea that I should be doing any particular thing - cleaning or visiting family or balancing my check book - I was filled with the energy of choice and freedom. My fatigue lifted.
I found that even on the Days of Nothing I would often choose to complete some task I had been putting off, rendering spontaneous what had previously felt like a chore. Knowing the benefit that spontaneity provides, I now constantly look for opportunities to choose what’s important in the moment. As a result, I find that I am more relaxed, energetic, and enthusiastic, no matter what I am doing.
Sometimes we can be so conscientious about doing what we think is good for us that we move too far in one direction, over-scheduling ourselves to the point that we leave no time or space for our bodies to tell us what we ought to be doing. Here are a few small ways to release your grip on rules and routines and allow your body’s expressed needs to be your guide.
Your Sleep Patterns
I recently posted an article on my facebook page which discusses some new ideas about sleep patterns. It turns out that eight hours in a row may not really be how the body wants to rest, at least not everyone’s body. How many times have you found yourself up in the middle of the night, worried more about the fact that you aren’t asleep than about anything else in particular? My belief is if you are tired, you will sleep. If you don’t feel tired, then be awake. If you weren’t busy being worried about being up in the middle of the night, and trying to sleep, what else could you do? There may be a rhythm that works better for you.
How Much Water You Drink
It’s practically ‘law’ to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Why? How can everyone possibly require the same daily intake of liquids? Personally, I think it’s pretty hard on your kidneys to drink that much every day. Try drinking just when you are thirsty. If you are active, or if you are outside on a hot day, you will naturally want to drink more. Your body knows what to do. It knows how much water you need moment by moment.
How You Exercise
Do you repeat the same workout every time you go to the gym, regardless of how you are feeling that day? Check to see if your body is calling for something. Is it begging to be stretched out on your heavy lifting day? Maybe you are feeling particularly strong and would like to reschedule cardio in favor of weights. Or perhaps you are about to get sick, and a nap would serve you far better than a workout.
All I’m suggesting is, listen! Rules are great, and they should serve you, not oppress you. Stick to the schedule most of the time, but make sure you build in the opportunity to ask, “What do I want to do today?” and the time to act on the answer.