Making time for calm is always a challenge. Calm rarely happens by chance. We all lead busy lives, juggling many responsibilities. Calm and self-care are often the first casualties. We need to plan to put calm first.
I get up at 5.30 every morning to find calm. This would not work for everyone, but it makes sense for me. As a busy working mum, my favourite time of the day is the peaceful hour before everyone else is awake. In this golden hour I can write, practice yoga, meditate or go for a swim. By 7am I am rushing around sorting out breakfast, packed lunches, laundry and my plans for the day’s clients and teaching. I find that I cope with all these demands much better if I have begun with some calm space.
Different Lives, Different Plans
Of course, different approaches work for different people. The idea of early rising may fill you with horror. You may be a night owl, active and alert until midnight and beyond. I am pretty much a zombie after about 9pm and always tucked up in bed by 11. Understanding your own natural rhythms is the first step towards finding time for calm. Then of course the demands of your work and family need consideration too. The most important thing is finding a plan and structure to ensure that crucial rest and relaxation are not left to chance.
Our bodies and brains follow natural daily cycles known as circadian rhythms. Your brain has an internal clock, known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This is regulated by daylight and darkness and by the magnetic field of the earth. Your body prioritises different functions at different times of the day and night. Sleep and digestion, blood pressure and the immune system are all affected and controlled by circadian rhythms. Disturbed rhythms can have serious impacts on your mental and physical health, contributing to insomnia, depression and many diseases[i].
Making time for calm and rest on a regular basis is a good way to restore imbalances in your circadian rhythms. Shift work, jet lag, caffeine and the changing of the seasons can all upset your body’s natural clock. Prioritising restorative practices such as gentle yoga, meditation and rest on a regular basis will help re-set the cycle.
Choosing your Regular Calm Practices
In this blog series I have talked about lots of different ways to find calm. No one would be able to do all of these every day. I hope you have had a chance to try barefoot walking, legs up the wall, alternate nostril breathing, journaling and more. Some practices will have resonated with you easily, and you may already have your favourites. Other suggestions may not suit you at all right now. Not everyone enjoys outdoor swimming or knitting. We do not all have the opportunity to bake our own bread or sing on a regular basis. Health, geography or caring responsibilities may limit your current possibilities.
It is wonderful to have a rich variety of calming practices to draw on as the need arises. Once you have tried a range of options, you can plan how to make calm a daily part of your life. This is where the real benefits are reaped. Meditation, yoga, aromatherapy and gardening are all most beneficial when practised regularly. You can choose the activities that work best for you right now.
Life is Always Changing
It is said that the one thing we can be certain of is change. Our lives are always in flux, moving forward, growing and developing. I aim always to follow some calming practices, but the particular ones I choose will vary depending on my circumstances.
During the Coronavirus lockdown I found daily journaling and breath exercises particularly helpful in calming my anxiety. Regular walks outdoors were also essential for my wellbeing at this time. During the winter I relied more on cold water dips and yoga classes, along with crochet in the evenings. Meditation and prayer is something I try to prioritise every day. I am looking forward to receiving monthly Reflexology treatments again from next month. My relaxing practices naturally change and adapt over time in accordance with my needs and what is available to me.
Your Life As It Is Now
I would encourage you to think how you can make time for regular calm in your life as it is now. What are the best times in your day to find peace and quiet? Are you a morning person, or do you feel calm and reflective in the evening? When is there a natural break in your daily activities? When do you most feel the need for calm?
Ideally you might come up with two or three little islands of calm in your day. You might identify half an hour in the morning you could use for meditation or journaling. Maybe you have ten minutes at lunch time when you can go outside and breathe or take a short walk. Before bed might be a good time for reflection and a little restorative yoga practice. Be realistic and don’t expect too much of yourself. One regular calm space is better than six that never actually materialise.
Daily, Weekly, Occasional
Some activities like journaling or meditation are best practised every day, or as often as you realistically can. Eating well, keeping a gratitude journal or using aromatherapy can help you have a good day every day. But you can also plan for weekly and less regular calm spaces in your life. A yoga class every Friday or a massage once a month works well for many people. Retreats, holidays and sound immersion experiences might be occasional treats to boost your self-care. Treats like these complement and balance the steady, daily nurture of regular calming practice.
Nurture Yourself Every Day
We need calm, rest and relaxation every day. These are as important for our health and wellbeing as our daily food. Commit now to nurture yourself every day with calming practices you enjoy. You will feel better for it.
Today’s Calming Practice – Plan Regular Time for Calm
Sit down quietly today with a notebook and pen. A cup of tea might be nice too. Spend some time thinking about how to plan regular times for calm in your life.
Reflect on which are your favourite calming practices, and which ones fit most readily into your current routines. Write down some ideas about daily and weekly times for calm and restoration. Don’t rush this. Listen to your heart and think about what feels right. When you are ready, begin to make a plan and put it into practice.
Thanks for reading this blog post. I am writing a series of 31 blogs every day this August. I plan to publish them later in the year as a book entitled, ‘Finding Your Calm Space – 31 Ways to Find Calm in a Crazy World’.
I’m Karen. I am a Yoga teacher, Reflexologist and busy mum of seven. I live with my family in Billericay, Essex, UK. In the past I have worked as a Midwife, Health Visitor, Baby Signing teacher and Tax Inspector. I love getting outdoors, swimming in the sea, walking and writing. Helping people relax is one of the things I do best.
You can learn more about my Yoga classes and Reflexology at my website www.thecalmspace.co.uk