Week of 17 June
A couple of conversations with people this week have reassured me that I’m not the only one who is feeling miserable and downcast during these short, dark, cold winter days and I’m not the only one who prefers to hibernate rather than be around crowds of people at Dark Mofo. Instead, I went to a simple Winter Solstice candle ceremony with my yoga teacher and a small group to welcome the returning light. I know we have a long way to go to get through winter, but this was a lovely way to pause, reflect and think about what I want to shine my own light on over the coming year.
I made a little progress on my 19 for 2019 list. I watched two videos for my photo class (thing 1) and then I hid myself away for an afternoon to work on some assignments in Lightroom (thing 19). I completed four over the weekend.
My wellbeing work (thing 6) has been around getting an evening routine into place and going to bed earlier. I’ve been trying to do this for years and have never made it stick. I wrote about a previous attempt in 2016, where I looked at the bedtime routine structure that Lisa Byrne put together in her book Replenish.
Lisa describes the bedtime routine as “a bridge from where you are at the end of the day to a place where your body and mind are ready to fall into a deeper level of rest”. Its purpose is to “slowly disengage you from the world and bring you back inward to yourself to ready your self for deep restorative sleep”.
She outlines four basic steps. First you cut your connection to the world for the night, by finishing up the jobs you have to do and turning off your screens and devices. You should have a fixed time to do this.
Then you move a step inward and do something to calm your body – it might be having a bath or a shower, washing your face, doing some light stretches, something gentle like that. Another thing that many sleep experts suggest as you start your bedtime routine is to dim the lights around the house to make sure your melatonin (the sleep hormone) production isn’t disrupted by artificial light.
The next step inward is to calm and soothe your mind, so Lisa suggests things like inspirational reading, meditation, calm breathing or journalling can be good to get thoughts out of your head before you go to sleep.
The final level of transition is to nurture your spirit. Lisa says that she loves “including something before bed that aligns with [her] spirit and symbolises what [she wants] to bring more of into [her] life”, so she might do some gratitude journalling or prayer.
Lisa shows it as going a bit like this: World >> Body >> Mind >> Spirit (but she has a pretty diagram rather than words).
So I’ve been focusing on the time I turn off my screens and devices and the things I do in between that time and bedtime. I’ve been trying to get back to a more consistent bedtime of 10.30 and to get to this I worked out I need to turn everything off by 10.00. So my first strategy has been to move shut down time back by 10 minutes every night, which worked well earlier in the week but not so well towards the end of the week. Not to worry. Today is another day.
Rather than design a multi-step routine that’s too complicated I decided to set up a few things that I’d do using Lisa’s basic structure as a guide. Some of them, like brushing my teeth, I already do but others are new, like doing some light stretches. I also decided that, since I managed to break my morning meditation habit a few weeks ago and have been unsuccessful in re-establishing it, I’d try and do that in the evenings as part of the “calm your mind” part of the evening routine. I keep forgetting! And finally, a new breathing technique I learned at a yoga workshop that is supposed to help you drop off to sleep easily.
I thought if I only do a few things, once I’ve built the habits up then I can start to add in other things, like reading or gratitude journalling if I need to. Or this might work just fine as it is and not need any more changes. At the moment it’s a work in progress and I will keep trying to stick with it every night.
I worked on the list for the bucket list journal (thing 18) some more and I stuck October’s photos into my 2018 photo journal (thing 11). I also got up and walked every morning this week, although on Wednesday either my alarm didn’t go off or I slept through it and my walk was basically to the end of the street and back (it counts because I actually went out and did it). I’m slowly starting to feel like I’m getting back to normal with my walks and am hoping that’s also a sign that my winter mood might be lifting.
Status for week 25
- Things completed this week: 0
- Things completed to date: 9 (3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15)
- Things I progressed: 5 (1, 6, 11, 18, 19)
- Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (2, 16, 17)
- Things not started: 2 (10, 14)