The Four Ps
Once you have identified your particular habits and tendencies, you can begin to look after yourself by creating a sense of balance, and mindful rhythm, which your body will enjoy !
The four ‘P’s are :
We could also include, Posture, aligning and using your body well and efficiently. I have included some postural explorations and advice in the ‘Moving Well’ section.
PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS
Once you have noticed your general habit patterns, It is useful to STOP periodically throughout the day, and really check in with how you are. (You may like to print out the little handout on 'The STOP process' to remind you of the stages of Stop, Take a breath, Observe your present moment experience, Proceed with a sense of choice.)
This can be a very useful way to begin to notice how your BODY is coping, where your MIND is going, and how your EMOTIONS are reacting. The Mindfulness section includes a little practice known as the ‘BREATHING SPACE’. It takes about 3 minutes, as you tune into and become more aware of what is going on for you, at a physical, mental and emotional level. Link to breathing space. Focusing on your breath as you acknowledge all that you are dealing with, can allow you to move on, in a new relationship with your day. You can make better choices about what you can cope with and how to take the next step forward.
You begin to accept how things are, rather than resist and ‘push through’ or resign and ‘give up’.
You might prefer to simply scan through your body for signs of held tension, releasing and deepening your breath as you go. The ‘Breathe and unwind’ section has some advice and guidance to help you.
1. THE BIGGER PICTURE!
We all have responsibilities and duties in our lives, things that we really do need to do. You may have a job outside of the home; you may be a parent or carer. We can easily spend all our time rushing between one job and the next.
Let’s just take a step back for a moment, to ask some really important questions:
There is another category of activities. These are jobs that are neither lifting nor draining, but things you manage to do with a sense of balance and acceptance. Perhaps these jobs fit with your understanding of ‘who you are’ and’ what you do’, they just feel OK.
Think about your list. Are you allowing yourself time for things that you enjoy? Are there ways in which you could change your relationship with some of the draining jobs if they are part of your purpose and role in life? Are all the things in your life that drain you really your responsibility? There are no easy answers, and everyone’s path is different. However it is useful to notice these issues and ask the questions.
2. THE DAILY PRIORITIES.
It is easier to prioritise how you spend your time, once you are aware of your needs and goals, as well as your responsibilities.
Imagine you have a pile of stones, of different sizes, which you need to fit into a glass jar. If you put all the small stones in first there will be no space for the bigger stones. However, if you put the big stones in first, the little ones will fall in around them!
This is a really good analogy for the importance of prioritising jobs throughout the day. How often do you find yourself frittering away the morning on unimportant things and then realise that the day is gone and those important jobs have to wait until tomorrow? This reinforces a sense of lacking control, and can make you feel stressed just before bedtime, affecting your ability to sleep well.
Each evening spend a little time deciding what you really need to do tomorrow. Are you worried about anything? What is the next thing you need to do to take action? When are you going to do it? How can protect a bit of time for yourself,to do something that lifts your mood and lightens your day?
Now you can use the ‘activity diary’ as a PLANNER.
Write down the things you need to do, and also the things you want to do.
Spread these activities out, and be careful to take rests BEFORE YOU NEED THEM. Deciding when you need to rest is the subject of the next section on pacing.
When you make your plan, you begin to link the issues from all of the sections in Moving into Balance. Here are some key principles:
- As you find balance in your day, notice how you can prioritise physical movement and exercise. Try to avoid long periods of inactivity, which our body is not designed for !
-You can begin to notice your sleep habits. We will look at sleep related issues in the ‘Finding rhythm ‘section. Notice if you are spending long spells in bed. How much of that time are you actually asleep? Has your day/night rhythm become imbalanced? If you need to sleep during the day, are you booming and busting? You may sleep some days and not others. You may sleep for longer than you need, reducing your ability to have a regular bedtime. If you know you need a daytime nap, be skillful about when you will sleep and for how long.
In the next section we will look at the issues of pacing. Adaptive Pacing Technique is a recognised strategy in the management of long term health issue. The value of this strategy is to help you manage your energy, and get through your day without becoming as exhausted. Pacing will not help improve your stamina, but does help you stabilise the highs and lows in your energy cycles so that you can find more control and space to build more physical endurance and strength.
Next: Pacing your Energy