Nutritional therapists often ask clients how they manage stress in their lives. One reason for this is that the physiological impact of stress hormones can counteract even the best diet. For example, chronically elevated cortisol can inhibit digestion, trigger weight gain and provoke sex hormone imbalances. Managing time in a way that feels peaceful could potentially, therefore, produce physically-felt benefits.
I love to manage time well, but I almost always want more time, especially in the mornings. Here, I’m going to write about three practical habits that help me live more peacefully in the limited time of each day. Each one is about creating, or observing, intervals. In different ways, I have personally found each one to be supportive to health.
The first habit helps me with work. The ‘Pomodoro’ approach suggests that we need to engage with tasks as process, rather than as items to tick off a list. You set a kitchen timer for 25 minutes and do as much work as you can. Then break for a couple of minutes. Then another 25 minutes. After 4 ‘Pomodoros’ you take a longer break. What I like about the ‘Pomodoro’ habit is that it limits my commitment to work and reminds me to stop, even when the task isn’t finished. I actually find I work with more focus and then rest more freely when I stop.
Another ‘timer’ habit was popularised a few years ago to help with positive thinking. This is very important for supporting the body's parasympathetic nervous system. You set a timer to go off every 10 minutes, and when the timer rings, you stop what you’re doing and thank and worship God. I don’t do this every day, or even every week, but what I like is that you connect so consciously and frequently to goodness and acceptance. And no depressing thought or action can last longer than 10 minutes. I experience it as a healing practice, and recent research largely bears this out. The timer I use is a free app, ‘Repeat Timer‘.
My last habit is about intervals of space that help manage time. The ‘morning pages’ practice described in Julia Cameron's 1980's book, The Artist’s Way is the habit of filling three pages of paper with writing before starting the day. As we write unconstrainedly, we become more aware of what we are actually thinking and feeling. We let go of the little things that so easily clog up our minds and emotions. I sometimes combine the ‘pages’ with my morning worship. Since I often avoid God when I’m busy or stressed, the three-page habit helps me to stay connected and open to help.
Important as it is to reduce stress, as a rule I love to consider instead the positive experience that I'm trying to develop, i.e. contentment, rest, peace. The hormonal and neuroIogical effects alone are worth it! I would love to hear from you what has helped you.
To your best of health,
Clare Backhouse, dipION, Registered Nutritionist MBANT, Registered Nutritional Therapist CNHC
Consultations in London, in West Sussex, and online