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

Are you “doing it all” in order to “have it all” (there is a hidden price that you pay)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

(This is the second in a series of 8 posts that I am writing on the intertwined topics of self worth and self compassion. If you have not read the first post, you can read it HERE. And once again as you go through this series, you can use journaling as a tool to get to reap the full benefit)

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.
―Maya Angelou, author, speaker, poet

Many of us have an aversion towards asking for help. Usually, we end up doing this only we when are in desperate need for it. For most men and women, this is usually when we have reached the end of our rope, feeling burned out and overwhelmed. How much less painful it would be if we had started paying attention to our needs before we reached this stage? Also, in many ways, women are worse off in this respect than men.

In fact, according to a recent UN report, modern women carry out at least two and a half times unpaid and household and care work than men. However, this is rarely recognised as "work". Things have definitely changed with well-intentioned men taking on more work at home, but it is clearly not enough. And this is not just because of sexism on the part of men, it also due to conditioning of both men and women while growing up. Inevitably, for most women, an impeccable home and well groomed children often become linked to their sense of self-worth. 

I confess that I am struggling with this at this very moment as I am trying to set up my coaching practice. I see myself struggling to reach my goals at work and at the same time manage the homefront according to the standards that I have set for myself a long time ago. However, whenever my well-intentioned husband tries to do his fair share of work or help me out, my ingrained conditioning gets in the way. My idea of getting things done properly is and always will be very different from his and this makes things really frustrating for both of us. Simply accepting our differences with regards to our approach towards housework has been really hard for me. I have chosen to work on this not just because of my own sanity but also because I want my children (a daughter and a son) to have a different kind of conditioning towards this type of "invisible" work irrespective of gender.

In most urban family settings across the world, women are the primary caregivers in their families as they take care of their children, family members and home. This is on top of the work that they may also be doing outside the house as a bread earner. This kind of pressure leaves little time for most women to tend to their own needs and practice self care. Thus today, even though many more women enjoy financial freedom, they often grapple with a feeling of frustration, a sense of hopelessness and end up living in chronic survival mode.

However, the focus of this post is not on the economic price that the society at large pays for this kind of hidden inequality but rather the price that most women end up paying in terms of their health and peace of mind. Since most of my coaching clients are women, I see this playing out all the time with them and this is true even for my friends and family members who are women. Many women are perpetually overwhelmed, with a sense of a never ending to-do list of responsibilities of things to do both at work and at home.

We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same

-Trent Shelton

Women are often under the impression that they need to "do it all" in order to "have it all". There are many ways that modern society has benefited women, however, it masks a dirty secret. As mentioned earlier, while a division of labour did take place in the workplace as many more women have joined the workforce, housework, cooking and/or planning meals and looking after children are still very much under a woman's purview. And in today's world, this is in addition to the workload that women have simply by being a part of the workforce.

This poses an enormous amount of pressure in terms of the expectations that many women inadvertently have of themselves in terms of how childcare and housecare should look like at all times. Can you relate in some way to this kind of thinking? 

Do you find yourself measuring your self worth in terms of

how your house should look at all times?

what your idea is of a "perfect" YOU and a "perfect" family?

how your child behaves or looks like especially in public?

what kind of nutritious foods you are able to whip up (or have your cook make for you) in your kitchen?

There are countless other such examples!

I am guilty of having very high expectations of myself when it comes to the last one. While healthy and nourishing foods have been a part of our meals for a number of years now, I was driving myself and my family crazy by trying to ensure that each and every meal in our house meets my high "nutrition" standards. I realised that I was doing more disservice than helping by forcing my younger son to have each and every meal that met my standards in terms of both variety and quality. It ended up making our meal times very stressful for all of us and became self-defeating in nature. Instead, I have taken a slightly different approach of involving him in respecting the food that is served in a more healthy manner and at the same time teaching him to understand how food affects his body. But, I digress...

Take a moment to reflect on the ways that you may be similarly linking your own identity and indeed your own worth at times to very high standards that you may be intentionally or unintentionally setting for yourself. Be gentle with yourself as you do this as you may have grown up believing that this is the only way.

Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself (and preferably write down in a journal) to help bring some clarity.

What kind of price (in terms of your health) are you paying for not reaching out for timely support from your partner/spouse or others?

What measure of "success" is worth your health? In other words, are you setting up your life to support the "success" that you want with intention so that it does not cost you in terms of your health in the long run?

Are you clear about what you really want in terms of your life - personal freedom, happiness, more personal time to pursue creative work/hobbies, emotional and physical health to name a few?

Are you willing to give yourself permission let go of your need to link your sense of worth to your house/family's health/children's achievements etc?

While it would certainly help to have our partners/spouses take more responsibility and initiative in terms of helping us, we need to start reaching out to them and find other forms of support in a constructive manner. There is certainly no one right way of doing this that will work for all women and their families.

Given below are some of the things that you can keep in mind while you do this-

 

Reach out when you feel the need to without guilt or shame- either to your spouse or a family member or a friend

Let go of any shame or guilt and the flawed notion that you need to "keep it together" at ALL times

Tend and befriend- connect with a friend or do something social as a part of a community

Give yourself permission to pause and practice "self care" in whichever way you deem fit

Learn the art of saying "no" and be comfortable in disappointing others as you learn to choose yourself over others when required

(I have written a few posts earlier on the topic of self care you can read them here and here.)

Infact, this last point is the topic for my next post but you will have to wait for it till next week!

I leave you with this beautiful poem on self worth by the young poet Erin Hanson

 "NOT"

You are not your age, nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight, or the colour of your hair

You are not your name, or the dimples in your cheeks.

You are all the books you read, and all the words you speak.

You are your croaky morning voice, and the smiles you try to hide.

You are the sweetness in your laughter, and every tear you've cried

You are the songs you sing so loudly when you know you are all alone.

You are the places that you've been to, and the one you call home.

You are the things that you believe in, and the people whom you love.

You are the photos in your bedroom, and the future you dream of.

You are made of so much beauty, but it seems that you forgot.

When you decided that you were defined by all the things you're not. 

 

Unplug and reconnect (change your relationship with technology)

Reading Time: 8 minutes

 

(This is the fourth post in the series of 6 posts that I writing on self care. You can read the earlier ones here, here and here)

Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master

~Christian Lous Lange

If you have gone through the earlier posts, you would know that we have been discussing topics like purpose and meaning, knowing what is truly important in our lives and what matters to us. But all of this would be made redundant if you could not apply what you have learned about yourself to carve out the life that you want. We have a lot to be grateful for in our lives towards modern technology including but not limited to comfort and convenience but we are certainly paying a price for it.

When I planned out the series of posts on self care, I knew that one of these posts would be to highlight the issues that are connected to the way that modern technology is impacting our lives. It has been clear to me for a while now that the very fabric of our society, our attention span and our health are all being affected by the very same technology that has been designed to revolutionise our lives (which it has). But it is even more disconcerting that many of us are blissfully unaware of the ways it affects each and every aspect of our lives. And even when we are aware of this, what makes it so difficult to do something about it is the way that it is designed. The many ways that technology has been designed to be fun and easy to use are the very same things that keep us hooked on to it.

One of my personal struggles today in terms of getting creative and meaningful work done is in connection with my own phone usage. Technology is something that is constantly being reinvented and keeps changing and has always fascinated me. I have always embraced it happily and learned how to apply it constructively in both my personal and professional life. But the flip side is that my smart phone usage is certainly more addictive for me than anyone else in my family. The good thing is however, I have known this for a while now and this awareness has helped me to take steps to deal with this issue.

Modern technology has enriched our lives and helped us make significant progress however, smartphones are really quite different from the other technologies that preceded it like telephones, telegraphs, movies, radios, video games etc. These were also game-changers in their own right but are still quite different from smartphones in terms of impact. The main reason for this is that smartphones, in particular, have been specifically designed to grab our attention and get us to spend an inordinate amount of time on them. 

The result is that the smartphone has permeated our lives and become ubiquitous like nothing that we have ever seen before. Whether is our social, personal or our work life, no one is immune to the addictive nature of our gadgets and social media adds another layer to this addiction. And I do not use the word addictive lightly at all. Our phones have been specifically designed to make us spend more time on them based on the way our brain works.

As Tristan Harris (a former Design Ethicist at Google and co founder of Centre for Humane Technology) said “Our generation relies on our phones for our moment-to-moment choices about who we’re hanging out with, what we should be thinking about, who we owe a response to, and what’s important in our lives. And if that’s the thing that you’ll outsource your thoughts to, forget the brain implant. That is the brain implant. You refer to it all the time."

(If you would like to know more on this topic and how it affects us, read his article Tech Companies Design Your Life, Here’s Why You Should Care_)

These are just two of the many books on this topic of how smartphones are affecting our health (and especially that of our children)- iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean M Twenge and How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life: The 3 -Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price. 

However, this post is not so much about technology as it is about the impact of modern technology and specifically the smartphone on our health. You may already be aware of some of the ways in which your digital technology use (including social media) is affecting your life and your relationships, your work and attention span.

However, to gauge the true extent of this issue, do take out some and answer the questions below-

Can you imagine life without a cellphone? What kinds of feeling comes up for you when you visualise such a scenario?

Have you ever noticed yourself using it not so safely? For e.g. talking or texting or watching while crossing the road or even while driving?

Have you noticed yourself feeling anxious and uncomfortable or even bored in a social situation and reaching for your phone to soothe yourself?

Have you ever noticed yourself losing hours at a time reading or watching social media posts and articles by simply losing track of time?

If you are cringing now after answering these questions, be rest assured that you are not alone. My own personal struggle with regards to my phone usage has reached a place where I am constantly trying to ensure that my phone works for me and not the other way around. The price that we pay may seem innocuous at times but make no mistake; we (and our children) are paying a hefty price by being constantly distracted due to the way the smartphone is designed to engage us.

Each of us has a relationship with our phone which in most of the cases is not in our favour and infact puts us at a major disadvantage. Unfortunately, this relationship often takes precedence over our real life relationships. It is time that we paused to think about what kind of relationship we really want with our phones. 

To have more clarity on how your phone usage may be your relationships, think about your answers to the questions below.

Is there...

a particular relationship that is suffering more than others as a result of your being constantly distracted? 

any way that a relationship will get more fractured in the long run due to your distracted ways if you do not take some steps to curb them?

some part of your life that you are missing out on now that you will regret not being present for later on?

some anxiety or worry that you have of letting go of these distractions?

(Take some time out to reflect on these questions and write down your answers to these questions in your journal as you have done for my earlier posts)

It is up to us to become aware of these pitfalls first and foremost at an individual level and then ultimately at a larger societal and community level. It is only with this kind of awareness that we will be able to modify our behaviours and make conscious choices in the way we use technology. This will help to make it work for us and NOT the other way around.Too often we lose sight of the fact that it is only when we squelch the constant chatter of our outer world that we can truly start to hear what our inner world is trying to tell us or warn us about.

Real self care starts the moment we start listening to ourselves and start taking steps to give ourselves what we truly need.   

And as we work towards becoming more present and less distracted, we can truly show up for our own life in a way...

that is truly aligned with our purpose and our goals

in which we are present for ALL the moments that make up our life and NOT just the special occasions

that is conducive for healing and taking care of ourselves

that helps us share our unique gifts with the world

that enables us to take risks, grow and show up as our authentic selves

that allows us to enjoy and live each and every moment of our lives without putting off "living" 

 

In the section below, I have highlighted some changes that you can make TODAY with regards to your phone/technology use to help you to reclaim some level of control

(I will be writing in more details on this topic in my series of posts on increasing self awareness and creating meaningful connections).

You do NOT need to be available every second of the day

You can answer your texts, emails and calls at select times during the day by blocking out time for it. Schedule switching off or at the very least taking some time off from your phone /technology each day and giving yourself a break (unless your profession demands you to be on call). This can be done by either taking 10-15 min phone breaks several times each day to either take some time off OR to focus on the work that needs to get done. I routinely put my phone on silent for at least a few hours each day to work on something that is important without being distracted all the time.

Your phone is NOT a substitute for human companionship or connection

Even when we are with people who really matter to us, we may not really be present. Instead of spending the limited but precious amount of time with our children, parents and friends who are in front of us, we may actually be spending time with our phones. I am guilty of this myself and I make a conscious effort to be really present in the presence of others especially my family.

Here are some distraction and phone free time zones that you can incorporate into your daily routine-

  • first thing in the morning
  • before your children leave for school (wherever applicable)
  • right before bed time
  • meal times
  • family time in the evening and on weekends

Take control of your phone

There are many ways that you can take back control of your phone and I have highlighted some of the most effective ones below.

(courtesy: https://humanetech.com/resources/take-control/)

  • Turn off ALL notifications apart from the ones you receive from people (calls and text messages)
  •  Go GRAYSCALE- this particular strategy is one I have recently implemented and has been really effective in reducing the time spent on my phone
  • Try keeping your apps on the home screen only
  • Launch other apps by typing so that it gives you just enough time to pause and reflect if that is truly the action that you want to take
  • Remove social media apps from your phone as it is the easiest way to cut back on the usage. They can be used when truly needed either from the browser or a desktop/laptop
  • Check out apps like Freedom (I personally love this one), Thrive Away, Offtime to track, monitor and control your phone usage

Isn't it ironic that a technology that was designed to foster communication and enrich our lives is, in fact, the very thing that is hindering interpersonal connectedness?

Ultimately, we need to remember that as human beings we have a primal need to be connected to others. But true connection usually happens in the micro moments in our life and that makes it very easy to miss out on those moments if we are constantly distracted. We can end up paying a heavy price by looking for this kind of connection elsewhere and becoming addicted to social media, shopping, alcohol, drugs, "busyness" etc.

So the next time you are with another person, look up from your phone and put it away. Take the time to be really present, to look into their eyes and to truly listen to what they are trying to tell you. Let us all reclaim our precious connections one conversation at a time!

As the author, Johann Hari has said so well

"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but human connection"