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Excerpt from "Sublime Relaxation"

by Jessica Berger, RN, RYT


Are you the Superwoman or Spiderman of your company? Do deadlines and appointments stalk you like a humdrum Boogeyman? Does a stress-induced short fuse occasionally incite remorse? If so, perhaps the Watchdog of Time Pressure has its teeth in the seat of your tights.

I used to think the words “Time Management” represented a tourniquet applied by corporate bosses to drain every ounce of life blood from their employees. Then a guest at Canyon Ranch told me that “time management” is her favorite way to avoid stress. Say what? This got me thinking. What does “Time Management” really mean when looked at from a positive perspective?

After a short search, I discovered the Lighter Side of Time Management (apologies to Mad Magazine). It means being aware of what we are doing, where we are going, and how long it will take to get there. It means taking this information into account when planning our days. Time Management encourages us to stop an activity before it encroaches upon the time needed to comfortably arrive at our next destination.

At work, enjoying “Time Management” means “wrap it up” early enough to allow for buffer space, no matter how much was accomplished. Learning to relinquish perfection earns us this space. Intoning a firm but polite ‘no’ to invitations that upset our applecart adds to the array of techniques that preserve our spare time. It is not easy to say no at first, but with practice, one learns that an honest no is more valiant than an irritated yes.

Time Management says, “if I am late, I am choosing to be late” (unless alien abduction or interplanetary defenestration is involved). By spending too much time preparing, cleaning, phoning or e-mailing, I am choosing to make myself late, and in this way, I opt for increased stress. When I see that the time for departure is at hand, I tell myself that being late is a choice. Do I want to feel frustrated if just one truck chugs along too slowly on Route 10? Well, yes, maybe if I like grinding my teeth down to little nubbins.

Everyone has a unique threshold for over-activity. Yours may be much higher or lower than that of your boss, your spouse, your parents or your children. Here’s a thought: instead of attempting to match someone else’s capacity to handle stress, determine your own and keep below it.

How is this done? If you’ve got some old calendars or journals kicking around, study them. Look for indications of exhaustion or illness and note if these occur around a certain volume or type of stressor. This will indicate your triggers and your stress threshold. To avoid falling past this stress precipice, intentionally block out periods of rest or repose into your future calendar. I like to do this by writing “booked out” on specific days, especially following a wave of stressful activity. Then when anyone asks if I am free, I say, ‘no, I am booked out’. It means that I get to do whatever I want that day. Life is so very short. We never know if retirement or vacation will even be ours. So to live for today, try the ‘booked out’ experiment. Because rest and repose are intrinsic to our good health, there is no room to feel guilty about it.

On your ‘booked out’ days, it is especially helpful to indulge in an extended yoga and meditation sojourn. Embracing your down time by deepening your self care through a contemplative practice compounds your relaxation interest, moving you further and further towards impenetrable peacefulness.

It is amazing what this one trick can do to improve your health and state of mind. And it is so easy. All you need is a pencil with which to draw a straight line through your chosen date with yourself.

Unless you are that one in a million who never grows weary, and that would make you a super hero.

Copyright Jessica Berger 2010

Jessica Berger is a Nurse Educator and Registered Yoga Teacher with over twenty-five years of health care experience in Orthopedics, Med-Surg, Pediatrics, Behavioral Health, Staff Development, Geriatrics, and Integrative Medicine. Smith College Summer Science Program, the YWCA, Department of Social Services, the Mass Nurses Association, and the Mass Teachers Association have all hosted her as a speaker on public health. She has published numerous articles on health and wellness. Jessica is delighted to have joined the Hartsbrook School as an Adjunct Faculty member where she recently taught 12th grade Health and Wellness. Her private practice specializes in rehabilitative yoga and movement for people in recovery from illness or injury. She leads Stress Reduction and Meditation workshops for yoga studios, schools and businesses. Her upcoming CD, Sublime Relaxation, is slated for release Spring 2010, with an accompanying book to follow. For more information about the book and CD, classes and workshops, visit www dot jessicaberger dot com. E-mail Jessica at jessicaberger dot com or call 413-527-1869

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