How I Get the Best Out of Myself (or Not!)

I had a wonderful conversation with a friend yesterday about how easy it is to get carried away by a distraction and miss out on a window of opportunity for achieving a particular intention. My friend finds that if she sits around distracted by her social media or her crochet for too long before getting up to do something active, that’s it, the activity is never going to happen. With chronic illness, those windows of opportunity are restricted even further by our symptoms and limited energy.

Often we have a daily pattern to our energy. For each of us that pattern is a little different, but when we understand our own pattern we can use it to our advantage. We need to understand when is the best time for us to do certain types of activities to fit with the kind of energy we have, and how to make sure we don’t miss those times. This is where the love comes from, in my love/hate relationship with my routines. By knowing my patterns and potential pitfalls, my routines help me get the best out of myself. They are designed to make sure I don’t miss those windows of opportunity.

This morning I missed them in two ways, first of all slept for too long and I got into a strange kind of dreaming state that usually results in me waking up feeling groggy and grumpy. Because I woke up groggy and grumpy I decided to read in bed before getting up, another of my pitfalls. When I spend too long in bed before I get up, I’m impatient with my tai chi and meditation and just want to get to breakfast time. When I don’t pay proper attention to my tai chi and meditation my day starts with a lack of motivation. The only reason I managed to sit down to write this after over an hour of faffing around, wasting my most productive time of the day, is that it was such a perfect example of what I wanted to write about.

I know I need to get up when I first wake up because if I fall back to sleep I have those funny dreams. Although I love the indulgence of a morning read before getting out of bed I also know that if I do it for more than about 20 minutes, I’m going to struggle with my tai chi and meditation. I know that my tai chi and meditation practises set me up well for the day and I know that my best time of the day for being productive is first thing in the morning, especially if I want to be creative. I know that if I have a good rest in the afternoon I can have a couple of hours of being able to do other stuff late afternoon, early evening (although it’s not my best time of day for complex problem solving or creative thinking). I also know that if I eat anything vaguely sweet too early in the day I’m just going to crave more sweet stuff for the rest of the day and will end up passing the very low threshold I have for that kind of food upsetting my digestion, so I aim to hold off on anything like that until the end of my evening meal. By knowing my pitfalls, I can use rules and routines to make it easier to avoid them.

I may not like this rigid structure and lack of spontaneity very much, but it’s worth it because it helps me get so much more out of life.

What works well for you and what are your pitfalls? How could you use habits and routines to help you get the most out of yourself?

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2 thoughts on “How I Get the Best Out of Myself (or Not!)”

  1. That’s a really useful reminder, Julie! I’ve been caught out lately as my pattern has changed. I used to have a window in the mornings but now I have to rest in the morning and start anything productive after lunch!

    That said, I know what you mean about going back to sleep and having funny dreams. If only I could motivate myself to get straight up when I awake I might do better but I can’t quite muster the energy to mentally get myself up. Something to think about tho!

  2. I have the dreamy sleepy thing after my afternoon rest if I don’t at least go and get a warm doing at 40mins. Though I very often want to stay asleep/ in relaxed meditation. This is less of an issue if I take things seriously and get to that rest by 2pm at the latest.
    Not sleeping well avoids the morning issue. I then have meds, reading, meditation and rest time before attempting much movement.
    I quickly feel all out of sink and irritated if folk /life gets in the way of routines that I know I need.


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