the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Day 17 Time Outs

Posted by themirrenlee on 17/01/2012

Time outs.

Do you take enough of them?

When my daughter was a little girl, she was quite hyperactive. Some parents may have chosen to put her on Ritalin, but I chose to work “with her where she was at, not where I’d like her to be.” (That’s another Theater Games quote, about what should be a coach’s approach to their students. “Theater Games” by Viola Spolin is like a handbook for life!)

I learned early on that she wasn’t going to be the type of child who would take naps. She wouldn’t even sit down at the table when it came time to eat. For that problem I told her day care center that they would just have to work with her as she was, and they were such understanding day care saints (took me a long time to find them – had to kiss a lot of day care frogs first), they let her walk around the table during snack/lunch times and didn’t try to make her sit down. The funny thing? The other kids were told that was how Sarah was, and because kids are much more intuitive than we give them credit for, no one else tried throwing a tantrum about how they should be allowed to walk around, too. They understood that Sarah had a special need and accepted her for the way she was. Which is a lot more than I can say about many of her subsequent teachers through the years. You can imagine the problems we had when she got bored!

For the nap situation, I devised what I called “time outs”. I told her they weren’t punishments, they were a way for her to get a rest so that she didn’t drive herself crazy. She would get so tired and wound up with her hyperactivity that then she literally couldn’t sleep at all, and things would really go to hell in a hand basket. In the beginning, when she was very young and couldn’t comprehend why she needed rest, I got her into the time out habit by telling her she had to lie down, but she didn’t have to sleep, which took the pressure off her – and children will accept something if it is repeated consistently. Sure, she’d fight me sometimes, but mostly she realized that my rule about time outs was the way it was, and the fights didn’t last long. I also, again, told her day care providers not to expect her to sleep, but to tell her she had to lie down when the other kids did because it was her time out period, which she understood.

Now Sarah is a wonderful young adult; and still prone to hyperactivity and driving herself crazy! She knows how to look after herself, though, even if she has to be reminded sometimes, and when she starts feeling “raggedy”, she will stop and use one of her various time out methods: reading a book, having a bath, taking a power nap (NOW she loves them!), watching a DVD, going through gossipy magazines while having a cup of tea, a massage; anything that requires little energy and takes her out of her normal routine. If it adds a bit of “creative input” (like reading), all the better – that’s refreshing, too.

Refreshed, energized, rested, centered, ready to take on the world again – these are all the benefits that happen to you when you allow yourself time outs. These are not the same as just getting more sleep, although that is of vital importance to you, as well. Time outs are more like “inner massages” that help you feel calmer and more like you than an hysterical spinning top.  By the way, this applies to men just as much as it does to women. Sometimes it seems as though we think only women get emotionally off kilter. (Although men usually try something quicker and easier, like a beer!)

And no, smoking, drinking and doing drugs do not count as time outs. They do not give you healthy input and their effects are artificial, short lived, and usually require more and more to accomplish less and less.

My creativity and motivational coaching taught me that more people than not never allow for time outs in their lives. So many people don’t even know what kind of time outs they’d prefer – and what would help them the most. No wonder the sale of anti anxiety medications are going through the roof!

It’s a mind body connection issue. Get in touch with what your body needs through your mind. I know, again asking you to think about you and what you need – scary!

I mention this today because I wrote yesterday how tired I was after a hectic day of running around. With my fibromyalgia, the day AFTER a busy day is usually a sore and tired one. I know, as does anyone with this chronic condition, that it usually works on a day on/day off schedule. So, to manage it well, I not only schedule more rest on the second day, but also more time outs. They give me not just sleep, but all the other good things mentioned above. This helps me to feel more “normal” again, and ready for the next day on. Time outs for me are not just luxuries – without them, I would probably get pretty close to not functioning at all.

Today I read my newest copy of Vanity Fair magazine while drinking cups of tea (I always joke that it was drinking tea that got Londoners through the Blitz, so that’s good enough for me!), used my fantastic new massager with the long handle that reaches even the middle of my back, did lots of lovely slow stretching while meditating on letting go of pain, and watched an episode of “The Bold & The Beautiful” because laughter is the best medicine of all! I even slipped in a refreshing power nap. I have an incorrigible sweet tooth, so in between I had chocolate and ice cream. I’ll walk it off tomorrow – today is for healing.

I have an insatiable curiosity about people, and what makes them tick, so naturally I wonder what you do for your time outs? Do you have any at all, or do you just push through, feeling like you’re going to explode while indulging in some quick fix that isn’t really going to help in the long run, such as drugs, smoking or drinking? Don’t be so hard on yourself. Ultimately, not allowing yourself time out for you and your needs can lead to self destructive behaviors – which really are nothing but passive aggressive tantrums. They’re understandable because you feel so strung out and “raggedy”, but they’re also avoidable if you’ll just treat yourself better. Do yourself a favor: take time outs. I’ll bet it won’t just be the inner you who notices the difference (and is grateful for it), but the people around you will also notice a difference in your whole behavior and outlook on life – for the better. And then you can teach them about how to take their own time outs.

Healing the world, one time out at a time.

I’m just timin’ out now …

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