How To Find Your Daily Rhythm Part 3
In Part 1 of How To Find Your Daily Rhythm, I introduced the concept of tuning into the rhythm of the day to deepen your health and wellbeing. In Part 2, I introduced successful ways to change habits.
In this article, I will offer practical tips and understandings about keeping that rhythm when you work away from home.
With so many of us drawn to the teachings of Ayurveda and bringing easy daily practices into our lives, I get this question a lot: “How do I deal with working full time away from home and still keep my rhythm?”
I know this challenge well: I faced it full-on when I became a student of Ayurveda. As I was learning to establish rhythm and routine in my life I was raising three kids and working full time as an RN with a 45-minute commute to work.
I had turned to Ayurveda because I loved how yoga made me feel. And I was impressed with how my friends who were practicing Ayurveda looked and felt: they were vibrant and beautiful, while I was dragged out and getting wrinkly.
In Ayurveda our whole life's journey is considered sacred. Yes, that includes those long days of work, kids, pets, and parents. When I began practicing Ayurveda I was inspired by the perceptual shifts even the smallest practices brought. Scraping my tongue in the morning invited me to feel more clear and in control of my health. Massaging my feet and hands with a little oil before going to bed felt self-honoring, leaving me feeling worthy of a good night's sleep.
I didn't know it at the time, but I was gradually being moved from my limited sense of self, my small self, to something more sublime, my Big Self, the part of me that is limitless. So, as that light began to dawn in me, I began making small changes in my workday away from home that allowed me to stay in rhythm, indeed to thrive at work.
Here's a quick primer on steps to consider.
The first piece of making peace with working full time and upleveling your health is to set an intention. Plug into your Big Self when your mind is quiet. This might happen on a walk, in the shower, in meditation, or elsewhere. Make your intention hum with resolve and clarity.
Here's an example:
Intention: I stay balanced and vital at work.
Great! Now choose some actionable small goals. Here are a few possibilities:
- I find time each morning before work to quiet my mind for at least 10–15 minutes.
- I stay super hydrated at work thanks to my thermos.
- I get a hot plate to heat water and fresh food at work to avoid using the microwave.
- I learn to prepare simple, fresh foods that are easy to eat at work.
- I pause every hour (or two) at work and breathe deeply and evenly, remembering to smile and keep things in perspective.
- Choose one or two of your goals to work with each week.
- Keep a journal or chart, or simply use your calendar to note your progress.
- Avoid over-ambition and open-endedness.
- Set a clear amount of time, I recommend a week, and celebrate your successes, no matter how small, at the end of that time.
- Celebrations can be small, like a special cup of tea, taking time for more self care like oil massage, or big, like taking a day to be in nature, or socialize with good friends.
My experience working as an RN in a busy Emergency Room and learning to stay in rhythm was a series of baby steps. As I worked to stay super hydrated I became aware of an unconscious pattern I had of not drinking water, because it meant having to take the time to go to the bathroom. I noted this, and gradually changed (in fact I ended up getting teased a lot by my co-workers who wondered what I was doing in the bathroom!). When I skipped my morning meditation (which was initially 5–10 minutes), I noticed a more frantic quality to my day at work; things just bothered me more.
So, I gradually learned to make time every day to meditate and my Big Self showed up more often. This made everyone happier—my family, co-workers, and me! I bought my first Ayurvedic Cookbook (Amadea Morningstar’s Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners) and began experimenting with simple, fresh foods I could easily take to work. Cooked apples with spices and nuts, thick soups and stews and rice became staples that nourished me through the shift work in the ER.
Gradually, I adopted the practice of healthy celebrations, and yes, this included chocolate! For a bigger celebration, I remember packing a supper picnic and taking my kids up the street to a little park that faced west. We could watch the sunset, they could play, and we all enjoyed the special feeling of taking the time to enjoy.
Try these simple suggestions I’ve outlined for you if you are ready to be more in rhythm and balanced at work.
Take your time, take those baby steps, and invite your Big Self to lead the way.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the How To Find Your Daily Rhythm Part 4 where we will explore integrating Ayurveda into your relationships and family.