The days are officially shorter and the nights longer, they can quickly feel rushed and gone too soon. As we enter this last quarter of the year, the stress becomes paramount. Right around the corner, we'll be greeted with the Holidays, adding in all our extra responsibilities, topped off with regular daily commitments makes this transition into winter one for the birds.
The Transition From Light to Dark
Long gone are the savory days of summer and the feeling of endless time, present now are days that feel like there isn't enough time. While the shape of our days seems to change, our responsibilities and needs don't. We often find ourselves even busier as winter approaches. So how do we handle a transition that moves us from light to dark, how do we remain calm and centered during a season that asks a lot from us, from preparations to obligations?
Not all transitions in life are pleasant. Think of the times during yoga practice when the instructor moved you from one difficult or uncomfortable pose to the next. A least favorite of mine is warrior two, into extended side angle, back into warrior two; my leading quad-burning with pressure, body shaking, wishing for the next movement to bring relief. Sometimes transitions in life echo transitions on the mat, they aren't always about what you'll gain, but sometimes what you can give up; what can you detach from, what can you let go of?
When I feel like time isn't on my side I've learned to adopt a few practices to get me through. One of the most important rituals I've established for myself is a mantra or an intention that I set my day with. Before I reach for my phone, before my feet hit the floor, I open my eyes and internally say this to myself: "Thank you for this day. Today I will take things one moment at a time."
1. Positive Affirmation
This affirmation not only sets my day up in a positive tone, but it reminds me that my days aren't given to me as punishments through which I must get things done, but rather that they are gifts through which I can live a life I love. It takes the pressure off of me and allows me to fully embrace the day as I set about my tasks. I have learned to let go of the need for "having" to do, and instead view my responsibilities as opportunities to be joyful in the doing.
2. Plan but be Flexible
I plan, a lot, but I'm not attached to it. In other words, my planner keeps me accountable for tasks I can do but it isn't the end all be all to how my day ends up unfolding. A planner isn't meant to be used as a way to shame myself for things I didn't complete but instead, it allows me to remain responsible for the things I can get done. I take my schedule with me everywhere I go so that I can check in on moments of downtime and see if there's something I can accomplish.
3. Set a Max
I set my tasks to a maximum of three per day, and I try my best to spread things evenly throughout the week. This not only allows me a reasonable expectation on what I can realistically do on a given day but it permits me to allow myself to settle in once I get home. A planner or schedule should be something we look to for encouragement never for control because sometimes the day won't go the way we planned. In these cases, take deep breaths, remember your mantra, detach yourself from unrealistic control, and trust that you will accomplish what is necessary.
4. Make evening rituals a priority
I make evenings a priority in my little oasis. Evening rituals are important to me and include unwinding by partaking in something that brings me happiness, some days its yoga, and reading, other days its art and writing. I'll light my favorite vanilla and lavender candles, and enjoy the slow burn of the night.
5. Don't stress over what's out of your control
And let's be real, sometimes there's a batch of laundry thrown in there too, but it's done in joy, not because I have to, but because I want to. There is no one size fits all to finding balance in our days, and I would be lying if I said that my system is fail proof. However, what I do know is that there is no sense in future tripping over what we could get done or do more of, it does no good to stress out over the things oftentimes are out of our control.
This transition into a new season, from longer days to longer nights, brings with it the excitement of the Holidays, and a new year, but with this change comes anxiety and stress. It's the yoga transition you're dreading, but you know its coming, and so as we move into this space we have a choice: Do we meet this transition with resistance or can we soften into the change, loosen our grip a little and breathe.