September. While this month always delivers some of the nicest weather of the year, for me it also possesses some qualities of whiplash. The summer was hot and had an inordinate number of flash floods where I live. I yearned for a few more weeks of the relaxed schedule, the warm days and the firefly and cricket chirping–filled nights that felt so nice.
It’s the surge of back-to-school energy that gives me the whiplash feeling. The pace quickens around everything and things get noisier. For those who adored summer, it was the whimper of retiring flip flops for regular shoes. For the school supply shopping parent, it was the roar of not finding the right notebook at the third store visited mixed with the joyful glee that the kids would be back at school, finally! Then there have been the cries of the children—those who found the separation from home unbearable and the contrasting squeals of delight when school BFFs are reunited.
Settling into patterns
We know that within a few weeks things will settle into a routine, there will be less drama and we’ll each find our own rhythm. While this transition can be unsettling, it also is an invitation and demarcation point for a shift in the patterns of daily life. In the shakiness of it all, it can be easy to reach for the familiarity of the patterns of the past, even when those patterns, those habits, did not work out so well.
Why do we fly into this energy and resort to the past patterns so quickly? For me, it was the lure, the excitement, the rush of getting back to work, heading toward a goal, a success, a win. We are a culture focused on getting things done. I believed that full speed ahead, at all times, was the formula, the only way to be.
So often, however, it was not until much later after a declared success that I recognized the unexpected sacrifices and consequences that were left in the wake of that success. I fell into the same potholes in the fast lane of life year after year and have the scars to show for it. I finally had no choice but to give up. “I’m tired” had become my mantra and exhaustion was my constant and unforgivingly harsh companion. There had to be another way.
Action is good, however…
I was similar to an athlete that has the training part mastered. I had the take action, get stuff done, be organized and efficient part of the formula down. But every truly successful athlete knows that the training matters, AND that the true measure of an athlete is how well they practice rest and active recovery.
Following my curious, Wonderland exploring and adventurous namesake, I decided to tap into my own ability to imagine and create something different. What if the pieces of my life could get tossed into the air like the cards in Alice’s Wonderland and reconfigure in a whole new orientation? What if the goal was not to survive, but to thrive?
I wondered some more. What if the work, preparing dinner, the laundry, workouts, washing dishes were all part of a joyful journey on the road called Thrive? It became crystal clear that what I wanted most was to feel energetic, excited, alive and have my head, and heart in the game, to enjoy it all.
First, I broke up with my companion, exhaustion, cleaned up the mess she had left behind and made space for some new friends. I didn’t know their names right at the start but this trio grew into a wonderful new tribe called Rest, Recovery and Reset. It’s taken a while to develop these new companions and they revealed the most wonderful delights.
Your own new way
Here are the three key components to create your own Rest, Recovery and Reset Plan that works for you.
1. REST: Get serious about giving your body the rest it needs. This happens at three different levels.
Mini-rest: in the form of a few deep breaths to get your lungs and heart working better. Just a few deep inhales and exhales can help calm your nervous system and gather energy in the moment. Doing some Ocean Breathing can also be a quick energy gain.
The Power Nap: Everyone can learn the art of Power Napping. You can use a body scan practice to help you learn how to relax quickly. 15-20 minutes max. Set a timer and gets lots of practice. This is rest for body and mind. A short, daily yoga practice is also a great way to build your capacity to relax and fall asleep. Savasana, the pose where you lie on your back at the end of a yoga practice helps you experience deep relaxation so falling asleep is easier.
More and better sleep. This is not my expertise but I found that Arianna Huffington and her fall asleep face crash experience that prompted her Sleep Revolution book was a fantastic guide. It has a bunch of tiny little things to consider that add up to better sleep habits. With some committed trial and error, I found my perfect amount and time of day to leverage caffeine and not have it cause sleep problems and this cracked the code on better sleep for me. Then when I realized how much better more sleep was, I took a big step and purchased a new AVACADO mattress.
2. RECOVERY: Take a look at your calendar for the next year. See if you can find a way to look at it all as one big picture. (See the image of the huge blackboard our family used for years to see our whole year ahead!) Identify the big events, milestones, birthdays, work-related events, projects or travel.
Identify dates that you will actively rest, either before or after these big events. Identify places and specifically how you will practice active recovery which means slowing yourself back into the next round of effort. Will it be a massage or other body work, a yoga class, walks with a friend? Put these on your calendar.
3. RESET: A reset is a time to get some new information and begin again, to completely change the programming and restart your systems of life. My biggest resets have been trips. I need new geography as the first step in my own resets. I also need a big dose of nature, because the stronger the nature exposure, the quicker I settle back into natural rhythms and my own best wisdom and physical health.
The science is still catching up to quantify exactly what being in nature is doing for us, but it is no accident that we innately seek out beautiful, natural places and gravitate toward the water’s edges. My trips to Costa Rica saturated me in nature of the rawest form. I learned new ways to approach life, they call it Pura Vida, and new ways to integrate what felt good when I was there, yoga and breathwork and amazing, simple, healthy food, into my life when I returned back home.
So in your creative imaginings, where might you go to change your programming?
What Journey might you take to give your system a boost?
Where you might learn new practices to find that pathway to Thrive?
Since my first trip to Costa Rica and Blue Osa in 2014, I wanted to make that reset experience available for others. We took our first Wholebeing Journey in 2018, back to Blue Osa. I am beyond excited that Meg Townsend and I along with two other amazing guides will be going on another Wholebeing Journey to Costa Rica next May of 2020. Perhaps that is the Journey for you? Maybe it’s to another place? Start planning now.
The great thing about having a trip planned well in advance is that as soon as you say yes, the Journey begins. And you have that much longer to enjoy the ride.
I’d love to hear how your Rest, Reset and Recovery Plan evolves. Have fun and be well.