Rituals to open and close your day
All life on Earth follows a rhythm that’s governed by the 24-hour oscillation between day and night, light and dark. Living in synchronicity with this cycle is key to our health and wellbeing.
Morning – how to get out of the right side of bed
How you get out of bed can set the tone for the whole day. Here are some suggestions.
Rise early enough so you don’t have to start the day in a rush. If you are a night owl, put some energy into re-setting your body clock, so the mornings aren’t so tough.
On waking, start the day with some self-appreciation, acknowledging the qualities and abilities that you bring to teaching. Feeling valued is one of our core needs - meet that need by regularly appreciating yourself, rather than relying only on external recognition, and carry it into your day.
Notice the way you get out of bed. Get back in and this time step out with respect for your body and with a quality you’d like to take into the day. Calm? Centred? Harmonious?
Get some direct sunlight first thing, maybe as you exercise, or commute to work. Morning sun helps you wake up naturally, signalling to your body clock that it’s time to release alertness-inducing hormones.
Review your breakfast – does it nourish and sustain you? And how do you eat it – mindlessly, on the run, or consciously?
At work, acknowledge another staff member. Be specific about what you appreciate about them.
If you feel really stressed about the day ahead, get pro-active about lining up someone to talk to.
Evening – reclaim the night to power down, not power on
Do you ever wake up feeling hung over, not from alcohol, but from unprocessed issues from the day before?
Just one or two hours less sleep each night has a measurable effect on our mood, ability to communicate clearly and think straight the next day.
Review your night-time patterns. How does your evening line up against sleep hygiene advice, which includes reducing alcohol and caffeine, establishing a wind down routine that includes a 30 to 60-minute technology free period before bed, and regular exercise? Also consider these suggestions.
Before you leave work, establish some simple practices that indicate closure. Transform turning off your computer or tidying your desk into rituals that signal completion.
If you are frustrated by the lack of ticks on your to-do list, write down what you did achieve. Allocate a time to address outstanding matters tomorrow.
If it has been an especially hard day, debrief with someone. Journaling or talking into a voice recorder is also therapeutic. Physical activity of any kind also helps shift your perspective.
Look at your after-dinner activities. Where possible, choose tasks that close the loop on the day’s activity, rather than crank up something new.
Begin to dim the lights in your home, well before bed. Take a moment to look at the night sky.
Notice how you respond to that first wave of tiredness. Can you embrace it as a reminder that it’s wind-down, not wind-up time?
Make getting into bed the most delicious thing you could do. Lay your body down with appreciation for how it has served you, and in anticipation of sleep’s wondrous restoration.
Finally, turn the lights out on your nervous system. Imagine that your spinal cord is a high-rise building. Go through each floor and turn the lights out. Sweet dreams!
Thea O’Connor, Health and productivity writer, presenter and coach
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 3, 13 April 2018, p26