Cultivating Daily Rhythms of Work, Rest, and Play

In last month’s post we talked about carving out those small pockets of rest in the midst of a busy day-to-day. It is my deeply held belief, that when we cultivate moments of rest and play, we are able to not only be more efficient and productive in our working time, but we are able to enjoy more of the fullness of life as we enjoy time with the ones we love. But how do you strike the right balance for yourself and your family? For me, cultivating daily rhythms has held me stay grounded. So here in this post, I hope to share three tips for you to cultivate your own daily rhythms of work, rest, and play.

Before we begin, it is important to note that these rhythms are, and should be highly individual. You may not have the same need for solitude that someone else has, or perhaps you find a vibrantly busy schedule to be stimulating rather than overwhelming. I still think that the basic principles will apply, but it is important that as you consider the rhythms of your own life, you make sure that any rhythms you create work well within the parameters of your personality, and your family’s collective culture. 

Clearly delineate your time for work and rest

One resource that really helped me as I began thinking through how to plan for rest was Morgan Tyree’s book Take Back Your Time. A professional organizer, Morgan Tyree’s advice about how to track the way you are using your time so that you might get the most out of both your work, rest, and everything in between. I highly recommend reading the book, but one thing I learned from it that I want to highlight todays is to clearly delineate that time you are spending on work, rest, and play. If you work from home like I do, then you know how hard and important it is to know how to start and get into a good groove, and how to be done and turn back towards the domestic sphere at the end of the day. Taking time to set your intentions for your time can really make a big difference in making sure that you aren’t low-key working all the time. (No work emails in bed!) It’s okay to say as a work related thought comes up, “that’s a tomorrow problem.” Unless you are a surgeon, or perhaps an investment banker, many of your urgent work life concerns, can wait. And if they can’t, so be it—but try and plan a time when you are able to be truly “off the clock” so you can deeply rest and enjoy times of play.  

Prioritize Play

I wonder if everyone feels as I do, that becoming an adult is just a constant battle against taking yourself too seriously. One of the most endearing parts of Treehive Chiropractic and the team there, is Dr. Tim’s kind and hilarious way of being. I laugh almost every time I come in—and it feels so good to remember that I can still do that, even with all the responsibilities that threaten to weigh me down. But don’t let that reminder stop there, in what ways could you create a little space for play in your every day? Maybe it’s taking ten minutes before dinner to rough house with your kids or chase them around the house. Maybe it’s watching a funny movie or a sitcom with your significant other or roomate. Maybe it’s playing a funny game with your friends. (I highly recommend Ransom Notes for your next get together.) Maybe it’s trying a new move at Zumba class, and refusing to be embarrassed when you fall on your backside—instead laugh at yourself and try again. So many things in our adult lives just feel like they want to suck every last bit of joy out of us, and if I’ve learned one hard won lesson over the past few years, it’s that joy is resistance. Joy is defiance. And it doesn’t come easily, especially with all that you have going on in your life right now, but pursuing play is one surefire way to remind yourself every day that joy is possible. So do something everyday that makes you laugh—and remind yourself that this part of your life is just as critical as all the work you do. 

Plan for transitions

Our bodies thrive on cues. This is one reason why so many sleep specialists recommend having your babies sleep in a darkened room—at a time before they can rationally understand that it’s time to sleep, this room darkening sends their bodies the cues they need so they know nap time is approaching. In the same way, you already have cues in your work, rest, and playing life that your body picks up on. If you are a morning person, then you likely find the lightening of the sky at dawn to be all the signal you need to get going for the day. If you have a habit of taking a shower at night, then the sound of the water running is already preparing your body for sleep. Rhythms and rituals surrounding both our work and resting life can help us to more fully dial in to those activities. Do you pour yourself a cup of coffee when you first get to the office, or before you sit down at your at home desk for the day? What do you do on the drive home to unwind?

One of the challenges many of us have experienced as we have begun working from home is the lack of delineation between our working and resting life—which is why planning for transitions can be endlessly helpful. And even if you do go in to work, your office emails are right there are the tip of your fingers unless you have somehow escaped without having a smart phone. Setting boundaries for yourself with your work, rest, and play time is critical.  Let your work be work, your rest be rest, and your play be play. But how can we achieve this in our hyper connected era? Try using a screen time app to block you from scrollable entertainment apps during your work day so you can best honor your working time, and likewise block your work email apps after your working hours are finished.

Right now in the mornings, I stumble to the coffee maker and try and sit for a few minutes in the quiet if I possibly can. Then, when it’s time to feed my kids breakfast, I am more prepared to make that transition to caregiving after I have taken a few minutes to care for myself. When I transition to working in my office for a time, I gather any snacks or beverages I need to be my most productive self, and I take a few moments to re-orient towards the task at hand. If possible, I try to finish my work time this way as well, turning my mind towards making dinner, picking up kids from school, or whatever else is next on my domestic agenda. Then after getting my kids down for bed a few hours later, I take time to be kind to my nervous system by making a soothing cup of herbal tea, and snuggling up in my bed with a good book. If I’m feeling plagued by the to-do lists, I give myself a few moments to jot down any encroaching thoughts, and then I turn towards rest again. This doesn’t always work out the way I want it to, (I have five kids after all!) but planning to spend a few minutes in that transitional period, looking forward to what is next, helps me to be fully where I am while I’m there—be it work, rest, or play.

I hope you found this post helpful as you begin to consider the ways you might begin to cultivate rhythms of work, rest, and play into your daily life. Though this post is barely more than a rock from which to jump off of, I hope you find this resource helpful as you move towards new ways of being that allow for you to be your full productive, joyful, and rejuvenated self. 

Until next time!

Grace Kelley and the Team at Treehive Chiropractic 

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