Don’t you wish you could suspend time?
Settle into an eternity of ease? If only for a minute?
No pressures, no tensions, just a prolonged sense of well-being.
What if you could suspend time on a regular basis – give yourself a restorative break in ten minutes wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Would you do it?
The good news? You can. By caring for yourself. Restorative Self-care unravels exhaustion and overwhelm.
Self-care means extending to yourself the same nurturing and thoughtful generosity that you extend to others, at work and at home.
If you don’t care for yourself, you become exhausted: physically and emotionally depleted. The quality of care and thought you pour into your work and relationships suffers.
When you are depleted you feel exhausted or overwhelmed.
For Self -care to be effective, it has to be restorative. That means it has to do two things: release tensions in your body, and rest your cognitive brain.
That’s why getting your nails done or watching Netflix isn’t restorative Self-care. You may enjoy those things, they may distract or entertain you, but they can’t restore your body and mind -- which is what you need to stop time, and dissolve exhaustion or overwhelm.
The Only Three Things You Need for Restorative Self-Care
You already have everything you need for restorative self care.
Your mind, body, breath – these three – are all you need. You always have them, wherever you are.
All it takes is using them to give yourself deeply restorative Self-care -- reducing the tension and overwhelm that rob you of your natural enjoyment in your work and relationships.
And it doesn’t take much time. And if you skip a day that’s fine. Take care of yourself the next day.
Once you get going, you won’t skip because your body and mind naturally remind you that it’s time to pay attention to yourself – to take care of you.
Start where you are and when you can.
Figure out the best time of day to give yourself 10 minutes of care.
This will be a different time for everyone. Find the best time for you. It may be in the morning, it may be in the evening, or at mid-day. It may be at work, it may be at home. It may be different times and places on different days.
The “right time” is the time that works best for you.
Give yourself 10 minutes. Less that this, and you’re not caring for yourself. You can find 10 minutes a day. That is 1% of your 16-hour waking day.
Flexible Self-care Works Wherever You Are
You don’t need to go to a special place to care for yourself. You don’t need a lot of money to care for yourself. You don’t need lots of time.
It’s all about stopping time with variations.
This means shifting your surroundings in small and simple ways.
When you shift your surroundings you shift your whole self – mind and body – from whatever you are doing to what you are about to do.
This simple step has a powerful effect on your body and mind.
How do you do this?
It depends on where you are.
If you have space at home or at work that you can dedicate to your self care, that’s great.
If you don’t, it’s not an obstacle. Create your Self-care space by shifting where you are for your 10 minutes of self care time.
Here’s How You Do It
If you can go to another room and shut a door, that’s ideal.
But if you can’t, it isn’t an obstacle.
There are other ways to shift your surroundings.
1. Create a signal to those around you that this is your “do not disturb” time. Close your door if you have one.
If you don’t, use a “not disturb” note or button on your cubicle entry. Let those around you know that you are about to enter your “time out.”
2. If there is ambient noise use noise blocking ear phones or ear plugs to lower the sound.
3. Unclutter any open desk space – it’s just for the time being.
This doesn’t have to be elaborate. You are just clearing enough space to put your head down.
Put the clutter in a drawer or keep a special box under your desk to use for this. During this time your space is clear and the clutter out of sight. When you are done, simply get everything out of the drawer or box and put it back again.
4. Turn off your phone. This is critical. Don’t silence it or put it on vibrate. It has to be completely off. Put your phone and any other electronic devices in a drawer or in the clutter box.
5. If you are in the same room or cubicle with your computer that you can’t close and put away, cover it for this time. This makes a huge difference. My clients used scarves. One even bought a really lovely small wall tapestry to use.
6. Treat yourself to a cloth wrap reserved just for your Self-care time. Wrap that around you as part of your preparation for entering your Self-care time. Shawls, loose cardigans, infinity scarves, mufflers all work. This should be something soft and preferably of natural fiber.
Keep your Self-care wrap in or near the area you will use for your Self-care time. Keeping it in a desk drawer or credenza is fine. If you Self-care time and place vary from day to day, get something small that folds easily into your purse or briefcase.
Shift into your Self-care time by using your “do not disturb” signal, clearing your desk, draping your electronics, and turning off your phone. Then wrap yourself up.
Shift your position
There are two optimal body positions that create the restorative effect you want: seated and lying down.
What you choose depends on how much space you have, and what your surroundings are.
If you are in a cubicle, use the seated position.
If you have more space, you can sit or try lying down.
1. The optimal seated position for releasing core tension uses your chair and the desktop or any table top as support for your body.
If you have a rolling chair, lock the rollers. You want to be stable.
Pull your chair in close to the desktop, cross your arms, and lay your head down on your forearms.
Office Or Home Space Practice
The optimal position for releasing core tension is lying down on your back with your legs resting over a chair or ottoman or even a coffee table.
Bend your knees and rest your calves over the seat of the chair. Preferably chair with no back so that your feet can slide through the back – not be jammed up against anything.
If your chin juts up, place something under your head – a small pillow, a folded towel, a cushion until your forehead and chin are level. This uncrunches your neck – a crunched neck creates tension. You can store this cushion in your drawer or credenza with your wrap and electronics covering.
Now Stop Time
Set a timer for 10 minutes. Use a timer so that you are not trying to keep track of the time in your mind.
Instead of the timer on your phone, use a small digital kitchen timer you keep just for this purpose. You can find these at Amazon or Target. That way your phone is off and your brain isn’t counting the minutes.
Add The Juice – Shift Your Breath
Forget everything you have read about counting your breath, or counting and holding your breath, or closing off one nostril.
Restorative breathing is about listening, not counting or controlling.
Once you are sitting or lying down in positions that release core tension, listen to your breath.
Listen to the sound of your breath.
If you are using headphones, or have ear plugs in your ears, it will be easier to hear. But even if you don’t, listen for the subtle, easy sound of your own breath.
You don’t need to change it – you don’t need to elongate it, you don’t need to hold it, you don’t need to count, you don’t need to do anything.
Your breath has a beautiful, subtle sound.
As you listen, that sound may change, your breath may change, it may get louder, softer, longer, shorter, deeper, more shallow.
Whatever your breath is doing is fine.
What matters is that you listen. Giving it your own gentle attention.
Listen to your beautiful, life-giving breath.
Do this for 10 minutes.
If you find that you “fall asleep” that’s fine. It really isnt sleep. It’s a deeply restorative state of consciousness.
When the timer beeps at the end of your self care period, stretch or move in any way that you like.
How To Sustain The Restorative Effect
Lifting your head from the desk or getting up off the floor signals your body and mind that you are about to resume activity.
Suspending that shift helps you sustain the restorative effect.
Do this by reversing your shift in surroundings. That is, returning to activity by reversing the process of suspending activity.
Lift your head or get up slowly.
Unwrap yourself, put your wrap away.
Uncover the electronics, then fold their covering and put it away.
Turn your phone back on.
Put things back on the desk or table top.
Take your headphones off or ear plugs out of your ears.
Let people know that you are available now.
The Magic Three for Restorative Self-Care
These simple time-stopping Self-care practices work because they
1. Release accumulated core tension in your body.
2. Shift you out of cognitive brain function.
3. Super-oxygenate your body.
All in 10 minutes.
Of course, you can practice Self-care more than once a day if you like, and the benefits will increase with the amount of time you give it.
You will find that even with 10 minutes a day you will feel more at ease and calmer throughout your day.