Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 6
Posted in: Poetry, Refocus

During the last few weeks, a number of experiences, interactions, and conversations have particularly resonated with me. They have been beacons calling me to prioritize taking care of myself. So, I’m recommitting. To myself that is. To self-care. To honoring my health. To prioritizing caring for this human shell that houses my spirit. If you’ve read Life Refocused for a while, you probably know that I do yoga and that I was a runner prior to a very persistent (and annoying) hamstring/hip injury. But I’ve fallen off the wagon. I’ve not kept up my yoga practice on a regular basis. I haven’t laced up my running shoes in almost a year and half with the exception of one morning a few weeks ago. I simply haven’t been putting my physical (and spiritual) health first in quite some time. This needs to change. I know that I feel better in my body, mind, and spirit when I’m engaging my body through yoga and running. I know these activities will lengthen the years in my life. And I know that I’m in a better mood when I’m attending to my health in these ways.

In line with the sirens of the past few weeks, I have been struck throughout the summer about my need for sleep. I’ve always sort of prided myself in being able to run on little shut-eye. I remember well that during college I would stay up very late studying, only to awaken early in the morning to attend to classes, extracurricular activities, work, and studying all over again. I also burned the candle at both ends throughout my graduate school career. This isn’t to say I’d pass up the opportunity to sleep-in or that I’ve had trouble sleeping into the late hours of the morning (no, my sleeping issues more frequently strike at 2am when anxiety kicks in causing me to ruminate on my to-do list). No, it’s more that I now realize I have made choices — even when they haven’t felt like “choices” — to structure my time around 6 hours (sometimes less) of nightly sleep. So, back to this summer…I have the luxury of not teaching from June until August; however, I do need to focus my energies on writing and submitting manuscripts to professional journals as my faculty position is in the category of “publish or perish.” Thus, I do have to work in the summer, but I get to set my own schedule. These past few months, I set my alarm clock for only a handful of mornings, allowing myself to sleep each day until my body naturally woke up (or was finally lured out of bed by two whining dogs). And an astonishing thing happened. On most nights, I slept from anywhere between 8 and 9 hours, most often snoozing for about 8.5. I was literally stunned by the amount of sleep my body needed. Despite all the research on sleep that is out there, I really thought I could get by on less. I brainwashed myself to believe it wouldn’t matter if I only got about 6 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis. I now see how ridiculous this line of thinking is. Why would I be immune to the needs and functions of sleep?!

And so. I’m recommitting. I’m prioritizing my self-care. I’m getting out the planner and scheduling in yoga and running. I’m setting a bed-time. I think all of these are good steps. And I am well aware they will be challenging. But as far as I know, I only have this “one wild and precious life,” (The Summer Day, Mary Oliver) and I want it to be a long and full one.

Are you recommitting to anything these days? How is your self-care? Any words of advice to share?

6 Responses

  1. Melissa says:

    Maybe it’s the change of the seasons, but I’ve had the exact same urge. Been feeling so tired for so many weeks, so trying hard to get rest, exercise and tons of vegetables. Even a few days of extra effort has made a huge difference to how I feel. Congratulations on taking this step and recommitting to yourself!

  2. rebecca says:

    I so totally agree with you on this. I am feeling like the things I KNOW will help me feel more whole, and ultimately happier, in my day to day are the exact things that get cut for lack of time. I am trying to take tiny steps into healthier habits. So glad to not be on this journey alone. 🙂

  3. Meg says:

    The last 12 months have most definitely been the time when life caught up with me burning the candle at all ends and surviving on too little sleep. Having been a bit of an insomniac all my life, a perfectionist for as long as I can remember and interested in too much, there were never enough hours in the day and I too kidded myself that I only needed 5-6 hours of sleep and could survive for short bursts on less. A crazy year at work, 8 ear infections in the same time and chronic pain forced me to rethink. Every day I am prioritising choices about what to do and how to expend energy but with time, space and energy to breathe and see, saying “no” or “not just now” doesn’t always feel like privation. Good luck with your efforts and easy does it on that harmstring.

  4. Tanya says:

    I look forward to seeing you on the trails, Meghan, once I get my new schedule figured out. Like you, I always thought that I was fine with five or six hours of sleep. The older I get, the more I realize that I can only do that for a short period of time before I’m completely exhausted. Eight hours is what I truly need to feel well rested. It’s truly a matter of making sleep a priority along with everything else on my list!

  5. Get to it girl! I run four times a week before work. What helps me stay motivated, is laying out all my running gear the night before in the bathroom, so I don’t have to fumble around to get what I need. Make a cup of coffee, read the front page and out the door by 6. So that means I am usually to bed around 9pm, thus I need 8 hours of sleep. Once you start running in the morning, it will become second nature.

  6. Hi Meghan,

    I just stopped by after reading a comment of yours at Life in Pencil and I’m glad I did as I found much here that resonates with me (right down to the copy of Cutting for Stone on your bedside table; I loved that book).

    I too am a (lapsed) runner and yogi, but have recommitted myself to these pursuits in recent weeks. I’m about a month into my own program of self-care and I’m enjoying the increased flexibility and stamina I’ve felt as a result. My next stop is to think harder about my eating habits. (This summer’s heat has brought a few too many ice cream cones my way.)

    Good luck to you as you re-prioritize your physical health.

    It’s nice to meet you.

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