I wrote last week about starting a re-balancing endeavour for myself. I was a mess, physically and mentally, and realized I needed to do something about it. So in last week’s post you’ll find that I set to make some changes in 4 areas:
- Physical - eating healthy, going to bed earlier and exercising
- Mental - slowing down, getting to understand the real issue before jumping to conclusions and solutions.
- Emotional - being present for the ones I care about and showing it.
- Spiritual - meditating, painting and gardening.
So one week has passed and I felt some big changes.
The most obvious was that I needed less sleep. I started going to bed at around 8:30 pm in the free nights of the week, and being so tired I had no trouble falling asleep at all. After a few nights of 10 -11 hours of sleep, by Thursday I had already shifted to around 9:30 – 10 – ish and discovered I had a lot more energy and woke up by myself before the alarm rang.
I did not need any coffee in these few days. However once I shifted back to 8 hours sleep per night I found myself having headaches and gave in to some light caffeine. I guess I still need to go to bed early, at least once or twice per week. And by “early” I mean chicken-go-to-sleep-hour, outrageously early: 9 pm.
Having eaten only fresh food – salads, fruits and the likes, I told myself I’m good to go for some fast food on Friday. Well guess what – my body instantly reacted to it with some annoying stomach aches. Back to health food! It seems there’s still work to be done.
I went to the gym and – guess what? – my tonus is minimal, dissappointing, embarrassingly low. I used to run around 6-8 km in one go, and especially on the treadmill (where it’s much easier) I could do even 10. That was 2 years ago.
I struggled to get to 3 km, with short breaths and walking/slow running. I guess it will take me good months of practice to get again to the point where I could dream about running the 10 k or even half-marathon. The good news however is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn’t stop smiling all the time, feeling fresh and revived.
A big change in my sleeping patterns was triggered by the dream techniques workshop I went to, after which I started meditating and doing breathing exercises twice a day. Okay, this might seem much for some, but take it as an exploration. It’s great for slowing down and self-centering at the end of the day, or for waking up in the morning, and takes only about 2 minutes. Not a big effort, right? Here’s the trick:
Tibetan breathing exercise.
You start by sitting down on a chair (or in the Lotus position if it suits you better) and press your ring finger of the right hand on your right nostril. Breathe in very deeply on your left nostril. Then, with the same finger, press on your left nostril (switch) and exhale on your right, in a quick manner. Be careful to clean your nose well before doing this exercise!
Repeat 2 times, then switch hands – with your left ring finger cover your left nostril and inhale deeply. Then cover your right nostril and exhale on your left. Repeat this another 2 times.
Then, lower your hands and breathe through both nostrils at the same time, deeply, and then exhale, in the same rapid manner, three times.
In total there are 9 breaths – 3 on one nostril, 3 on the other, and 3 on both.
Normally this is combined with a visualisation technique and abdominal breathing – a similar description of the exercise can be found here.
I’m normally not good with meditation, but this exercise is quick and effective. Since it’s so short, I’m focused more on the breathing and my mind doesn’t wander. And the benefit? A clearer mind and less hours of sleep needed. Now who doesn’t want that?
Continuing the action plan (damn this sounds too corporate:) )
I’m continuing my rebalancing period, with the next focuses for this week:
- Mental - focusing on the “reality” part of every conversation. Asking “where is the problem?” several times rather than “how can we fix it?” I also want to take at least 2 ICA (coaching) teleclasses – which I did not get to do last week.
- Spiritual - continue the meditation and shorten my sleep time to less than 8 hours per night. Now that would be a first since I always needed at least 9 hours to feel completely rested.
- Physical - Give up meat completely for 1-2 weeks. Reduce caffeine. Run 2 times per week and get to 4 km per session.
What I noticed overall is that since I started paying more attention to the way I feel (physical, mental), I made responsible choices for myself (food-wise, sleep-wise). The mindset that says “I need to take care of myself” became present in the back of my mind at all times, creating a sense of wellbeing. I guess this is what they talk about when describing “work-life balance”.