Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Relaxation Ritual

According to this questionnaire, getting married is the 7th biggest stressor in life (behind death and jail terms).

When I was getting ready for my first acupuncture appointment last week, I went back over my calendar for the past two years and recorded the number of days for each of my menstrual cycles. I'm worried about the extended length and irregularity of my cycles. As I flipped through my calendar, I quickly saw a pattern related to the number of events on my calendar and the number of days in my cycle. In other words, there seems to be a correlation between stress and my irregular periods.

Most of my cycles are in the 30-40 day range. But guess how many days it was between periods when I was getting married, buying a new house, starting a new job, and moving to a new state?

Have you made your guess already?

108 days. Seriously. More than a hundred days. Egad.

And that was after we made every attempt to plan a wedding that was as stress-free as possible.

Analyzing the literal connection between stress in my life and my health and wellness has given me a renewed sense of commitment to reduce stress in my life.

I know I talk a lot about stress, but this time it's different. This time, I literally see the impact of stress on my body. I'm seriously trying to figure out how to significantly reduce my stress levels.

My primary strategies are:
  1. Analyze why I invite stress into my life by stretching myself too thin.
  2. Breathe more deeply (all the way into my abdomen).
  3. Exercise regularly (at least 3-4 days of running per week).
  4. Eat better (no caffeine or alcohol, less sugar and flour, more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains).
  5. Institute a nightly Relaxation Ritual.
I've been doing the nightly Relaxation Ritual for a week now, and I'm loving it. At 8:15pm, I stop whatever I'm doing and start winding down. I spend a few minutes picking up around the house (since I'm one of those people who is more relaxed in a tidy environment).

Next, I do 15 minutes of yoga with this video.

Finally, I spend the rest of my time reading, watching a movie or TV shows on hulu, or talking with Matt. At 9:30, I go to sleep (so I can get eight hour of sleep before my 5:30am alarm). It wasn't easy to uphold the sanctity of my Relaxation Ritual every night. On Monday, I had to go speak about the Houston Heights Time Bank at the Transition Houston meeting. I also had to finish a consulting deadline. Tuesday I went to a museum preview for educators. Thursday I had a dinner commitment with colleagues. It wasn't easy to prioritize time for myself, but it's a commitment I need to make to myself and my family.

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Sharpiegirl said...

I'm not sure what your BC of choice is but, if you are able, you should start tracking ovulation too. I know...TMI but if your cycles are that wonky you might be able to spot some trends that can be corrected with the help of a good doctor. A friend of mine had great RE in North Houston, Dr Dorothy Roach. I know that would probably be a hike from your part of town but they may be able to recommend someone that is closer. Good luck with the relaxation ritual. I need to do something like that myself.

dognbird said...

The 7th biggest stresses! Yikes! Good list, I've been thinking of getting back into yoga as a way to destress from planning, you've inspired me.

Isabelle said...

An other trick to ease up the stress is to reconnect with your body during the day, especially at work:
1) you leave yourself notes in your day schedule for example (I put a little star in mine)to remind you to do the next step
2)whenever you can, you make sure to notice how you are breathing, how your feet feel, and your legs, your back, your shoulders, etc.

Often you can readjust yourself in a more comfortable position or stretch just a bit. It literally takes about 30 seconds and it reminds you that while your head is in go-go-go mode, your body is in no danger and therefore there is no need to go into survival mode. When your body is less tense as you work, you use up less energy.
It's really hard to change habits so keep up the good work!

love-v said...

I like the idea of a nightly relaxation routine. I've had difficulty sleeping for the first time in my life due to stress this year. That awful time at night when all you want is to rest but your brain won't turn off with all of the stuff from the day and plans for the day to come. I think adopting my own routine to officially wind down would help tremendously.

Rachael Eisner said...

This simple thing I think would solve a LOT of peoples problems, help clear traffic congestion (less stressed out and healthy individuals on the road) however it is one of the HARDEST things to do EVER. I wish you luck and wish I had the same tenacity. I'm just shooting for workout right now (however my goal is keeping up w/P90X all year) but that is still ALOT. You'd think it be easy to devote just an hour and a half to a completely selfish goal, but no. Not so easy.

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