Regulate To Restore + Renew
Updated: Jul 19
Authored by Lynn Salmon-Easter 10/21/2019
Photo from Hannah Lim on Unsplash
When you regulate your daily actions, you deactivate your ‘fight or flight’ instincts because you’re no longer confronting the unknown. —Brianna Wiest
Recently, I have taken a deep dive into learning about being a highly sensitive person (HSP). I am realizing more and more how rituals and routines stabilize and bring a sense of calm and peace to my life. Are you wondering if you might be a highly sensitive person? You can learn more here about being an HSP and see if this temperament resonates with you. The more familiar I become with the HSP temperament, the better I am able to identify my triggers and challenges during each season and time of the year. I believe it is important for us to be in touch with our triggers so we can appropriately plan self-care to counterbalance the challenges presented to our system. We are quickly moving into autumn. For me, autumn is a time to regroup, find my routine and begin to commit more regularly to an internal and spiritual practice. Summer is a chaotic season for me, I relish in the regularity and routine autumn brings. I realized for the first time in my life how loud of a season summer is: construction, motorcycles, radios and air conditioners. I am relieved to be moving into the cooler and more contemplative feeling of autumn. The loud noise of summer in conjunction with the high heat temperatures overstimulate my system and make me realize why summer has not been a favorite season for me. I hope summer fills you up! If not, this is great information for you so you can begin to add in those increments of self-care to offset the challenges the season may present for you. Lets take a minute to reflect on what may be working for you or what may be challenging:
Which season revitalizes you and gives you the most energy?
What time of year is the most challenging for you and why?
When during your day or week do you feel the most challenged and stressed out?
As children, routine gives us a feeling of safety. As adults, it gives us a feeling of purpose. — Brianna Wiest
Ritual and routine can put us at ease by helping us to know what is coming next. Not knowing the next activity in our life or day can create anxiety and stress for those of us that are highly sensitive. If we choose activities and rituals to sprinkle throughout our day, they can help bring us back to our center and calm so we feel more balanced and harmonious. A routine or ritual could be as simple as saying a prayer or mantra each time you eat, lighting a candle, gratitude journaling before bed, yoga or meditation at lunchtime. Find rituals that are simple and easy for you to execute and bring you back to a calm and centered state. It can be helpful to do something called ‘bookending your day’ which is creating a ritual in the morning and a ritual at night. These rituals can be as simple or as complex as you desire. For myself, my nighttime routine looks like this: wash my face, brush my teeth, put on my pjs, light a candle, meditate for 5-15 minutes in my bedroom, read with my daughter in her room, lights out. Think of separate incremental rituals or habits that you can then stack into a routine that feels right for you with each passing month and season. As the months and seasons come and go, you will learn best what works for you at different times of the year. If you currently feel overwhelmed, start with a micro practice of 3-5 minutes of only one ritual and then build into a practice as your stress level and life allows. Like exercise, as we build-in self-care, it helps us to find balance and a fresh perspective in our lives. Let’s take a moment to reflect on rituals and routines:
What routines do you currently have in place that are working in your life?
Is there a routine you could implement to better support you in your life right now?
Can you think of a new ritual that could be stabilizing for your life that is not currently part of your routine?
As your body self-regulates, routine becomes the pathway to flow. — Brianna Wiest
When we begin to regulate our schedule, our bodies and lives regulate as well. Following a schedule of activities and rituals at the same time each day helps us to become fully engaged in our activities allowing worries and fears to dissolve along the way. The more we train our body and mind to respond to our daily rituals and cues, the more we can tap into a ‘flow’ in our life. Flow is essentially what takes place when we are completely immersed and present with our life—in the here and now. It has been my personal experience that happiness is not derived by how much we accomplish in our lives, but how well we do the tasks in our lives. When we are making conscious decisions rather than being dictated by our fears or impulses, we begin to live out of a more authentic place and our flow begins to happen naturally.
Your habits create your mood, and your mood is a filter though which you experience your life. — Brianna Wiest
As we begin to layer our rituals and routines into our life they create a healthy tapestry of habits and patterns. As we begin to live out of these daily patterns and routines we are stabilized by what is coming next rather than living out of our fear or the stress of not knowing. About five years ago my daughter started asking if we could get a family dog. At the time we owned an aged cat. Initially, I was not keen on the thought of getting a dog. We had been devoted cat owners up until that point. Each and every year, my daughter continued to inquire about getting a dog and I got more curious and willing to consider the request. I am an individual that craves routine, but I am not very good at implementing structure and routine in my life. I have always thrived and been most happy when external circumstances have created ritual and routine for me. Ultimately, my daughter’s wishes were granted and in April of 2017 we adopted a 6-year-old female greyhound and named her Harriet. This pup has been an equalizer for me and has helped me to rebalance my mental wellness. Each and every day since we have adopted Harriet, I more happily get out of bed, get dressed and walk her first thing in the morning. The ritual and routine of dog walks has been an amazing help for my mental state and attitude. I have struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life. Exercise and being out in nature help me to regulate my challenged mental states. The regularity of walking my dog 3-4 times a day has its challenges in a busy modern life, but I have found the routine and the payoff to far outweigh the challenges. So, what if you don’t own a dog or you do not want to become a dog owner. Don’t worry. You do not need to adopt a dog to turn your life around. Begin building in your 3-5 minute rituals one at at time and then begin stacking and layering these rituals into a routine that feels restful and restorative for you. If something is not resonating or working, change it. Stay curious to help combat overwhelm and come back to basics. As you traverse the upcoming months, please keep the basics in mind and draw upon balance by settling into some nourishing and supportive routines. This will help you to incrementally stabilize and reset your nervous system and moods. Here are some suggestions of balance and equilibrium I have found to work well for myself and my family:
Take time to decompress
Allow time to adjust to change
Focus on meaningful relationships
Find healthy ways to resolve conflict
Leave enough time to accomplish your tasks (or take tasks off your list)
Arrive to your destinations early
Get plenty of sleep
Eat healthy meals made with real food
Go caffeine free
Create a nurturing space for yourself in your home
Use low lighting to soothe
Venture out into nature and surround yourself with beauty of all kinds
References The Psychology of Daily Routine by Brianna West