Clear Your Schedule

When you look at your schedule for the week do you ever just get the urge to wipe it clean?

I remember a particular few weeks when I certainly felt like that. I was a little under the weather and had a combination of events I was expected to attend, jobs I was expected to complete, projects that required daily effort and daily life to contend with too. I knew by the end of it I’d be knackered, worn out and a shell of my former self and knowing that stopped me looking forward to my week. That day I happened to be read a sentence that said: “Clear your diary for 2 weeks, keep your body calm and be asleep by 10.30pm every night and be up by 7am you’ll feel like you’ve had a holiday when the two weeks are up”. This was music to my ears and I so desperately wanted that relaxed holiday feeling that I committed to it straight away.

  • I cleared my diary of everything non-essential
  • Went to bed at 9pm every evening (to be asleep for 10.30)
  • Read a book for about an hour

The changes I had to make were:

  • organising the last appointment of the day to be a bit earlier
  • getting ready for bed earlier
  • eating dinner earlier
  • avoiding the tv
  • tell my other half that unless he was home before 8pm I wouldn’t see him
  • choosing a fiction book to help me relax
  • decided to watch my tv programmes at 7am on Saturday and Sunday morning because otherwise I’d have struggled not to enjoy the morning snooze.

What I didn’t know at the beginning of my 2 week experiment was how well it would work. It was a complete leap of faith beyond being laced with the good kind of common sense you tell kids. Part of the reason it works so well is because being in bed by 10.30 and up at 7am helps regulates our hormones. On top of that, making my primary concern to keep my body relaxed and calm meant that I was constantly activating my relaxation response which is also known as our parasympathetic nervous system and our biological defence against stress. I’m pretty sure at that time in my life I was running almost 100% on my stress response and my body was simply tired, the relaxation response was exactly what it needed.

The good news is it didn’t take 2 weeks for me to feel better, it only took a few days, at which point I renamed the experiment ‘My 2 Week Home Retreat’. At that point I had to renew my commitment to the experiment because I felt so great. I did the whole 2 weeks and even kept it up for a couple of months. I did reintroduce my evening commitments but only a few nights a week. I’ve done the two week home retreat a few times and I’m sure I’ll do it again.

Do you ever want to clear your schedule?

5 thoughts on “Clear Your Schedule

  1. Hi Fiona, I love the idea of the two-week retreat! It sounds like it really worked. I could do with something like this right now to help me relax and feel calmer. How did you keep reminding yourself to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system and what things did you do to keep your body calm? I’m really interested in how you did this, as I know I need to do it more often, but keep forgetting 🙂 xKim

    • Hi Kim,

      Yes it was great! Things I did to keep making sure I was switching on my parasympathetic nervous system (PNS for ease of typing) was things like breathing in for the count of 3 & out for 6 (it’s the out breath that switches it on, so it always needs to be longer).

      Other things like softly running my finger along my lips, apparently that ones great because when we kiss on the lips it switches on the PNS. Also I put a reminder on my phone to beep once every hour where I’d do a body check, literally I would stop what I was doing, close my eyes and check to see how my body felt, was it calm, was there any pain, could I relax my shoulders or any tension in my jaw. That kind of thing.

      For me I find wearing anything really soft or silky helps me remember to relax. So I made an effort to always have something soft next to my skin or within touching distance. Even just a silk hankie in my pocket would have worked for me.

      Other things that have also helped me relax (but doesn’t necessarily activate the PNS) are things like making water my drink of choice (so easing back or stopping my caffeine intake) and giving my body a rest from chocolate or sweets. But I think someone (me definitely) has got to be in the right place to consider making even small changes to their food intake, it can take a really huge mindset shift and the idea is to relax the body & mind, not stress it out with worries about food and missing out on your favourite thing.

      If I think of any others I’ll let you know but I think those are the best ways I know,xxx

  2. Hi Fiona. Thank you so much for your very practical tips! They are fabulous and all things I could easily do, so I am looking forward to trying them and feeling more relaxed more often 🙂 I agree with you about the silky, soft fabrics. I have wanted a long soft-fabric dress or skirt that looks good but makes me feel like I’m wearing comfy pyjamas, and this week I found a long maxi skirt in a super-soft fabric. I wore it yesterday and it just felt gorgeous against my legs.I’m looking forward to giving all your ideas a go., xKim

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