Find your RHYTHM and replenish your energy

Reading Time: 6 minutes

(This is the third in a series of 8 posts that I am publishing every week on the topics of self worth and self compassion)

If you have read my earlier post you would know why it is important to protect our most precious and valuable resource- TIME.

(You can read the earlier post HERE)

In this post, I am focusing on yet another important resource that we often take for granted - ENERGY. We often feel that we have an infinite amount of energy that we possess as we push through life ignoring our natural cycles and rhythms even though our body's internal clock has evolved over millions of years to be in sync with nature. But because of our fast paced lives, we are often living a life which is completely out of sync with that of nature. Today, many of us are paying the price for this in terms of feeling overwhelmed, tired, exhausted and drained of energy. 

When we live under chronic stress, live sedentary lives and eat a bizarre combination of processed foods that are alien to our bodies, we are completely removed from what evolution has prepared our bodies and our minds to deal with over millions of years. In our chaotic lives, we eat at all hours of the day and night, barely get enough sleep and are constantly distracted by our devices and media.

Is it any wonder then that so many of us struggle to lose weight, feel vibrant and healthy and live to the fullest?

Do you....

Wake up in the morning and not feel refreshed?

Need coffee, tea or sugary beverages to keep you going through the day?

Lack the motivation to accomplish even the smallest tasks?

Struggle to lose weight in spite of a healthy diet and regular exercise?

Feel your mind racing even though you are physically tired?

In my coaching practice, we address these issues by finding out the root cause and then making lifestyle and dietary changes to support it. My clients are taught to understand that our bodies have an innate biochemical and genetic rhythm which has evolved to rest when it becomes dark and to wake up when the sun rises. In other words, each and every cell in our body has an internal clock. This is because every function in our body has a specific time as it cannot do everything at once. Scientists have also learned that while our circadian rhythm is influenced by light, the timing they follow is controlled internally by our genes.

Each of us must find our rhythm, it allows us to thrive. Finding it is often difficult in today's noisy world but it is important if we want to feel centred and balanced. Living in sync with the seasons of nature helps us find a wavelike rhythm and routine. This gentle repetition allows us our minds and our bodies to replenish and rejuvenate on a regular basis thus ensuring our wellbeing at a spiritual, emotional, physical level.

(You can read about the power of a morning routine in my earlier post HERE)

Finding a routine which helps you to work with your body's natural rhythm and not against becomes important. It helps add stability to our lives and makes us feel more balanced and secure. It is equally important to understand the remarkable resiliency our bodies posses and that when given the right ingredients, it can quickly bounce back as it has a tremendous capacity to adapt and evolve.

"I feel safe in the rhythm and flow of ever-changing life"

- Louis Hay

Incorporating rhythm in your life can be done in many simple ways some of which are given below-

going to bed and waking up at the same time every day

exercising regularly at the same time 

regular meditation

having meals at regular times

playing and also indulging in hobbies on a regular basis

spending time with friends and family

getting exposure to natural sunlight 

On the flip side, some people fall into a rhythm and a set of patterns that is self destructive. These people end up coasting through life without being able to fulfil any of their needs in a positive manner. Their lifestyle ends up working against them and holding them back.

This can also happen to the best of us at some point in our lives but most of usually find our way by making small but positive changes in the right direction. We learn from our mistakes and move towards what we desire and then moving towards it, one step at a time.

It all starts with where you are. Taking rest if you need to. Listening to your body. And getting back on the bandwagon if you do fall off. And knowing that the results are worth the trouble that you are taking right now- at a physical, spiritual and emotional level.

As you treat yourself with compassion, you start to notice that you are beginning to heal in many different ways. You will find that as you find your rhythm, your energy levels start improving over time.

You can then add a few more additional layers to your routine to give yourself a bigger boost.

You can...

hydrate yourself well every day starting with a glass of water when you wake up in the morning

get your body to move- dance, yoga, pilates or any other restorative exercise

go regularly for a walk in nature

start journaling (a stress journal works really well for some people)

ask for help for something you are struggling with (I have written an entire post on this- read it here)

focus on your "WHY" - why you get up in the morning and what you are planning to accomplish? (you can read my post on this topic here)

focus on what you can control and let go of what you cannot

By living a life that is in rhythm with the natural order of things, you will also start to notice that you get a natural high on most days instead of having to resort to artificial means of boosting your energy levels. At the same time, having a well thought out routine at home and at work will provide you with the freedom to focus your energy on your goals and things that are important to you. This can help to restore balance in your life and create a sense of order.

Ask yourself this,

"What is the ONE routine that I can incorporate in my life today that would help me the most at this point in time?"

Once this routine has been in place for at least a month, you can ask yourself the following questions to determine the progress that has been made so far.

In what ways...

do I feel less overwhelmed?

more balanced?

more productive?

more at peace with myself?

has my clarity and/or my ability to concentrate improved?

(whichever is applicable)

Finding our rhythm lays the foundation to help us achieve our dreams and lead a life that is fulfilling at the same time. It allows us to live a life filled with joy, happiness, peace and to be fully alive to love and be loved.

The Byrds had captured this really well in their song "Turn turn turn"

To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time to build up
A time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rain, a time of sow
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace
I swear it's not too late

5 simple morning habits for a calmer, brighter day

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This is the THIRD in a series of 6 weekly posts that I am writing about self care- if you have not done so already you can check out the first part "Do you know your WHY?" and the second part "Rocks, pebbles and sand...the key to knowing what is important in your life".

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver (from the poem "The summer day")

Take some and reflect upon your answers to the following questions

What do I want from life?

What am I doing that really counts?

What would I do if I knew I would not fail?

What is the unique gift that I can share with the world so that I can contribute and make a difference?

For many of us, somewhere deep inside we have this niggling feeling that what we are doing is not contributing to what really matters to us and what is important in our lives. Taking the time out to reflect on the questions shared in all the three posts should give you some clarity and inspire you to think about what you need to change in order to move towards your goals and focus on what is important to you. As you do this, you will be able to take out the time to listen more, spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy and indulge in your hobbies, relax more and get to know yourself through meditation and self reflection. It would then be much easier to identify those areas of your life that need an overhaul or some tweaking in order to become the best version of yourself.

However, sometimes even when we have the clarity and the inclination to make changes in our lives, the external world can get in the way. Without realising it, we can start and end our day on autopilot merely reacting to circumstances and people, fulfilling their agendas and not ours. For many of us, as soon as the alarm wakes us up, our habitual thoughts take over and our mental playlist of activities, worries and to-do list fill our every waking moment. Each day turns into a month, then months turn into years and pretty soon we have lost decades of our lives simply by remaining on autopilot. We may also feel that because of our circumstances- financial, personal, professional we do not really have any choice but to live like this on autopilot.

This is simply not true

At each moment we have a choice. You chose to read this article today. You choose the clothes you wear, the foods you eat, the activities that you indulge in. You choose to be angry or to forgive people. You choose to be happy or to remain sad. You choose to be grateful for what you have or to focus on the things you lack in your life. You choose all these things and much more. BUT what you need to keep in mind is that this power to choose resides only in this present moment. In time, it is what we do every single day that matters much more than the profound decisions that we may make once in a while.

Once we are clear about what we need to do, we need to rise above excuses and do what is important and needs to be done. And one of the best things that we can do to increase productivity and get things done is to have a well thought out morning routine. Having a consistent morning routine is infact a common and recurring theme amongst many successful people. It helps to counteract the pull of distractions and overcome daily obstacles that can and do pop up. You can and should harness the power of an empowering morning routine as well. And in time, it can literally transform your life.

Whether it is the Olympic winner Michael Phelps, Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Ratan Tata, Indira Nooyi or countless other successful people, crafting a sacred space in the morning has made all the difference in their productivity and achieving their dreams. It has enabled them to start their day with intention and set a positive tone for the rest of the day. In other words, an empowering morning can set you up for 'wins' and motivate you to keep going with a calm and productive frame of mind.

Now that the power of morning routines is clear, let us see what it would look like for you. The first thing to note is that it is NOT and SHOULD NOT be the same for everyone. It is not about waking up at a particular time OR doing the same things that everyone else is doing. It is about finding, creating and then sticking to a routine that is right for YOU.

Remember, your mornings are a blank slate and it is up to you to fill it in with what work for you

What is a morning routine?

It is a set of activities that you do upon waking up in the morning. It can and does vary from person to person and includes activities like exercise, meditation, brushing teeth, prayer, journaling, writing and reading.

Take some time today and think about how you usually start your day. Simply start by making a list of all the things that you do upon waking up. The next step would be to identify what is important right now. (This becomes easier if you have already reflected upon this as I have mentioned in my earlier post) Once you know that you are doing the RIGHT thing you can get started crafting out a routine that works for YOU.

In this post, I have shared with you 5 simple habits that you can intentionally develop for a calmer and brighter morning

(It is up to you to incorporate as many of these that you want in your own routine)

Setting intention

Set the tone for the day by finding out what your intention is. The questions below can help you bring some clarity as you think about your activities for the day and set an intention-

How can I show up today that is in line with what I want to achieve today?

What do I want to see more of today? (good news, wonder, acts of kindness, joy)

What is my heart's desire at this moment?

How do I want to feel?

A few examples are "Today I will take care of myself better, show compassion to others and myself, remain calm, be more open to joy".

Journaling, meditation and reflection 

Prayer, meditation and journaling are all beautiful ways that you can use to ground and connect with yourself. There is no one right way to meditate or write in a journal, you simply need to find what works for you.

If writing free form is difficult, you can use the prompts given below (from the book "The Mindful Day by Laurie Cameron")

What I appreciate most in my life right now is....

 I am at my best when I am....

What brings me alive is.....

What I really need right now is....

What gets in the way of me being present is....

My next best action is.... 

Even if you do not have a formal meditation practice, the simple act of paying attention or being more mindful in how you start your day can have a profound effect. The beauty is that you can be more mindful with regards to any activity that you do already. The simple act of paying attention while having a cup of tea, brushing your teeth, showering, exercise will help you to bring awareness to that particular moment and replenish and rejuvenate you.

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Reading

Another way of connecting with yourself and the world in the morning is to read a book (and I don't mean the news). This will be different for each of us as we choose to read something that inspires and motivates us. I find that I prefer to read about other people whom I respect and who inspire me to grow and live a better life. Books like The four things that matter most by Dr Ira Byock, First things first by Stephen Covey, Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, The power of habit by Charles Duhigg, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Mindset By Carol Dweck, The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann are just some of the books I have read over time.

Spending time with family

Spending time with your family is one of the best ways to start your day. It helps to connect with what is truly important for each of us on a daily basis. Whether it is 10 minutes or an hour, it is the quality of the time spent that matters more than how much time you actually get to spend with your family in the morning.

Since there is always a rush in the morning during school days (I have two school going children), I try and wake my children up around 10 minutes earlier and spend some time with them, giving them a hug or a cuddle and sometimes switching on their favourite music to get them started on the right note. My husband and I also make sure that we savour our quiet time together over our cup of tea and newspaper before we start preparing for our day.

Exercise and mindful movement

Research shows us that moving our bodies first thing in the morning whether it is through exercise (cardio, aerobic, strength training etc) or mindful movements like tai chi and yoga have a profound beneficial and positive effect on our health and how we deal with the rest of our day. By doing this first thing in the morning we have the opportunity to harness the benefits of exercise and movement throughout the remainder of our day. Schedule a workout or activity that you like doing already and then stick to it.

However, the key to having a successful and consistent routine is to PLAN for it and REMOVE anything that might get in the way

A few things that ensure that I stick to my routine are

  • preparing the night before by keeping my journal, workout clothes ready; preferably somewhere I can see them immediately as I wake up
  • using an app to make sure that I cannot access my emails and social media first thing in the morning (I will be covering this topic in details in one of my later posts)
  • having a simple structure that I can follow in terms of activities and time for the first couple of hours
  • setting an intention for the day; sometimes I set one for the entire week
  • complete my workout in the morning so that unexpected work or family issues do not come in the way later during the day
  • lastly, creating an environment that is conducive to self reflection and gives a peaceful start to my day; I love playing music and lighting incense to awaken my senses

My own routine is very much a work-in-progress and is not something that you need to emulate as is. The whole point is to find what works for YOU and then stick to it. It should be something that you enjoy doing and feel good about doing on a regular basis.

So take a pen and paper and start creating an empowering morning routine for yourself. Every day that you stick to it treat as a small "win". It is only when we pause to celebrate each step that we take in the right direction that we can stick to it and achieve what we set out to do no matter how long it takes.

Finally, take this magical time to connect with your body, breath and spirit to give yourself the best possible start to your day and to your life

As Marcus Aurelius said, "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love" 

(As you go through these posts I suggest that you keep a journal handy so that you can reflect upon and write down the questions that I ask along the way. You may end up getting to know yourself better and even surprise yourself with your answers. And of course, I would simply love it if you would share with your experience of going on this journey of self-exploration with me)