New Routines to Keep
They say life goes quicker when you get older. Well, it doesn’t really, it just seems like it does because you have less variety – it’s all about more of the same thing.
Before Lockdown, my time outside of work was relatively consistent; same experiences, same locations, same times of the day. I think this is pretty normal given all that is possible when juggling work, kids and yourself.
Time for a (forced) change
When we were forced to change our routines, most of us wobbled. Amid looming health fears, financial worries and ‘how am I going to entertain the kids’, we all no doubt started to look at how we were spending our time now that our routines had been ripped up.
‘Opportunity’ could be seen as a dirty word when associated with a global pandemic. Yet, we were given an opportunity to review, reflect and make small, but meaningful changes to our own lives.
Five months on, some of the small reflections and physical changes I have made have created a happier, healthier and more positive me. I really hope that it has been the same for you; of course, we’d love to hear from you on this.
What’s important to you?
We all have our own stories, and while one person may wish to watch every episode of Friends on TV during Lockdown, another will learn Spanish or build a house. For me, I just looked at small, sustainable (in my world) changes.
Allocation of time
If you have never seen it, check out Hugh Grant in About a Boy, where he plays a somewhat irresponsible 30-something who is living on his father’s Christmas song royalties. In one memorable scene he talks about ‘Units of Time’, and how he breaks his day down into 30-minute units and fills it with quite meaningless things, such as watching Countdown.
To stop myself drifting during Lockdown, I started to break the days into chunks. My wife and I blocked out our own ‘personal’ time where we could do something for ourselves, away from the rest of the family. Of course, we also had chunks dedicated to precious family time; time we’d spend actually doing something rather than just allowing the hours to disappear.
My weird obsession with cold water
One ‘opportunity’ during Lockdown was to spend a little bit more time researching, planning, and actually ‘doing’ something we have often pondered on. I am a sucker for unusual approaches to health; exercise, diet, mindfulness… I even had hot suction cups stuck all over my back once!
Wim Hof – the Ice Man, was introduced to me about 18 months ago; this Austrian guy is crazy! You may have heard about him (he was recently on This Morning with Holly and Phil (skip the advert at the start)). His theories are deep but also backed with science. He has trained himself and others to strengthen their immune systems through cold water exposure, breathing techniques and a positive mindset.
“I’ve got to get some of this in my life”, I thought. The problem is, despite spending half my life in the sea, I’m always in a wetsuit (and a bit wimpy when it comes to cold water!).
There is a strategy behind all of this – ‘The Wim Hof Method’ as it is known. During lockdown, good-old Wim put parts of his paid-for program out on the web for free. It took me a lot longer than it’d take most, but I gradually increased the cold-water exposure from a couple of seconds on my shins to full two-minute cold water showers. Living by the sea as well, I was testing my resilience on our walks by wading as far as I felt brave.
Fast forward a few months, and this is now part of my new weekly routine. I frequently go for swims in just my shorts (and hope to continue to throughout the year), and I start most days with a cold shower. The benefits for me have been more energy, fewer aches and pains and a more positive mindset. It might sound a bit silly, but it just shocks you out of negative thinking!
The more I looked into it, the more I discovered that the benefits of cold-water exposure were known well before Wim Hof; it has been linked to helping with depression, as reported by the British Medical Journal. The BBC also wrote a nice article about it a few years back.
Where I live, Sarah, one of the parents at my son’s school, invited some of the other mums to join her for a sea dip after school drop off. They started in the autumn when the water was still mild, but sustained it every single day (ice, wind, snow, rain… you name it) throughout the whole of winter. It wasn’t just a couple of them; it was pretty much half the school! I later came to learn that they had joined a national network of cold-water swimmers called The Bluetits Chill Swimmers who encourage social dips in the knowledge that it has physical and mental benefits.
Puzzle: The Wheel of Time!
Talking of routines, Aaron at TT Towers has gone routine-crazy with the working day! The crew at TT Towers need your help to find out what time they’re allowed their daily treat! Download The Wheel of Time Tasty Treat Puzzle here!
Easy right? So, once you’ve worked out what time we’re allowed our tasty treat, send your answer to us using the Entry Form below and include the hashtag “#TastyTreatTime“.
COMPETITION NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to Caroline Edgson who was picked from all the correct entries to win a Treasure Trail Voucher!
Itching to know the answer? You can find it here.
Don’t let them slip
Looking back at photos from April and May, I’ve already noticed that some of the new routines we had established are slipping. I think that this is possibly due to there being a greater demand on our time, or is it just that we don’t feel the need to try so hard anymore?
Our daily adventure walks aren’t quite so common, nor are the kid’s yoga sessions. We haven’t camped again in the garden… strangely, when we were forced to do ‘not do a lot’, I think we were actually doing more.
Thankfully, one small change we are continuing with is all sitting down together as a family to eat our tea together; something which I valued so much as a child. Our Friday night fancy-dress discos are still going strong as well. I’m not quite sure how these started, but they basically involve us raiding our fancy-dress box, ripping all the cushions off the sofa, playing loud music with the bubble machine on and watching the kids get incredibly sweaty!
As for Hugh Grant and his units of time; I am still thinking about this. Although I haven’t got it down to 30-minute slots (or even started watching Countdown), I am filling my days with a lot more quality, and this can only be a good thing to keep up.
What are your new routines?
Aaron Hutchens 31st August 2020
Posted In: Ideas