How to Create a Personal Tide Table
The past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about high- and low-tide moments in our lives, how they affect us, and how we can best support ourselves inside the ebb and flow: by coming back to stillness, back to presence, and back to the breath to get grounded and clear.
We’ve considered how, regardless of which part of the continuum we’re in, high tide or low, we always have the tools we need to feel both powerful and empowered to work with what’s present.
This week, we’re taking a look at the cyclical nature of these tides and at how we can use our knowledge of cycles to actually plan for both high and low tide.
What do I mean by “cyclical nature”?
Well, while tides may sometimes be unpredictable in the level of flow, we can count on the fact that a period of high tide is always followed by a period of low tide and vice versa.
If used wisely, this knowledge enables us to plan in advance how we’ll care for ourselves according to which part of the cycle we’re in. It also enables us to use each and every part of the cycle to our fullest advantage.
Some of you may be thinking, “Duh, this is so obvious. It goes without saying!” But for many others out there, this notion may be new.
As I touched on in the last newsletter, we’ve been socially conditioned to numb our natural attunement to the cycles of nature and to ignore our connection to them.
While cycles are a natural and predictable part of all life, most of us aren’t fully present to how powerfully they’re affecting us and how powerful it is to consciously work with the ebb and flow of energy, rather than pretending the cycles don’t exist.
Think about it, if we don’t understand the cycles of our lives, it usually means we’re unprepared to support ourselves through the changing flow of energy.
If we don’t allow ourselves to acknowledge what’s coming, we can’t create the space we need around us to deal with whatever needs come up in each specific part of the cycle.
On the other hand, when we invest in understanding how our personal cycles work, we’re able to more powerfully support ourselves and those around us, regardless of which part of the cycle we’re in, because we’ve thought about it in advance.
This is why I’ve created the idea of using a personal tide chart to support myself and my clients (and now you!) in feeling more empowered in our lives and less at the mercy of things outside ourselves.
HOW TO CREATE A PERSONAL TIDE TABLE
Creating a person or family tide table can help you learn how to best support yourself in being present and grounded in your life and feeling less frenetic.
It is also helpful for you to begin understanding your past tendencies of not creating space to honor the moments of low tide; when you begin to see and understand your own patterns, you can start shifting those patterns to more fully honor the cyclical nature of your being.
Keep in mind as we go that each person’s tide table is going to be totally unique, and as with most things, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. As you construct this tide table for yourself, be sure to listen to your own inner wisdom and trust your intuition; only you know what works best for you.
To begin, consider what period of time you’d like to chart.
For instance, you could do a tide table to support you in understanding anything from the flow of one day to a period of a week or even farther out... three months, six months, a year. Begin with what feels best to you, and keep in mind that if you start to feel overwhelmed, you can always start with a smaller chunk of time or use that handy trick we’ve discussed for moments of overwhelm - coming back to presence, stillness and your breath to get grounded before moving on.
Grab pen, paper, and start noting big high-tide events coming up.
Regardless of what kind of period of time you’re working with, it’s easiest to begin by jotting down any and all big events that are happening during this period: back-to-school, family celebrations, a big push at work, travel commitments, holidays. Whatever big stuff you’ve got coming up, you’ll want to mark those things on the calendar as moments of high tide.
Then chart the periods of low-tide.
Once you’ve got all your high tide moments noted, you’ll be able to see that on either side of those moments, you’re going to want to build in for yourself restorative periods - times of intentional low tide. By intentionally creating time for nourishment and rest both leading up to and coming down from big events, you’ll immediately begin feeling more supported in handling the flow of your life and in integrating your experiences. You’ll find that once you begin intentionally holding space for this kind of restoration, you’ll feel filled up and ready to move into your next high tide period from a place of abundance and ease rather than dread or anxiety.
Hold powerful boundaries to prevent unconsciously filling your time in low-tide.
Now, in addition to intentionally building in low-tide periods on either side of high-tide moments, you’ll also want to take note of any fairly empty stretches of time on your calendar and consider intentionally holding those times as low-tide by creating a commitment to have powerful boundaries around things you’re willing to take on. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, we have a tendency to fill, fill, fill our schedules, which results in a never-ending high tide that leaves us feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. If we’ve created intention around not filling our time simply for the sake of filling it - an intention to hold sacred space on our calendar for no other reason other than the fact that we want to and we can - it’s much easier to make sure we don’t overdo it and burn ourselves out by unconsciously filling up our calendars.
Self-Care in high-tide: sometimes say NO to things, so you can say YES to yourself.
Once you’ve got your unique high- and low-tide moments marked on your calendar, it’s time to begin thinking about how you’ll want to support yourself given what you know. For instance, during high-tide periods, you may want to avoid taking on any extra commitments outside what’s totally necessary or already present. Knowing in advance that you need to say “no” to things that might come up means you can say “yes” to caring for yourself and honoring the priorities that you’ve already got in place. In that same vein, you may also want to actually block out time for daily self-care during high-tide periods; for most people, times when we’re juggling a lot are both we most need self-care and when we’re most likely to slip up and get out of our routine.
Where would it feel good to have extra support when you know you’re going to be extra busy?
Another way you may want to plan to support yourself during high-tide periods is by delegating or outsourcing things you usually handle without strain. Can you enroll someone to help you handle things like preparing food, doing laundry, and cleaning? What about childcare? So often, these daily tasks are things we don’t prepare for in advance when going into high-tide seasons, and they’re also the things that end up feeling overwhelming when we’ve got a lot going on. You may also want to say “no” to potential visitors and house quests during times of high tide, so that your home can remain a place for you to relax and unwind. Whatever it is that’s going to best support you in having a highly-functioning high tide, build it in! Plan for it in advance so you can know before your high tide ever arrives that you are fully supported in having your needs met and taking care of those around you.
Feel into what nourishes you.
In looking at your low-tide periods, be really honest about acknowledging what you need. Whether it’s time spent alone or having visitors, taking a trip or going on a soul retreat, or leaving whole periods of time totally unstructured so you can honor the desires that naturally arise for you and your family in those moments. Feel into what will be best for you as you lead up to and come down from your high tides, and set intentions in advance so that the burden of planning is not present when you arrive in those moments.
If you are reading through this and having thoughts such as:
"How long should this take?"
"I don't have time to sit down and chart things out"
"What if I don't know what's going to come up for me?"
"I'm going to be the one person for whom this doesn't work."
I want you to know that you are not alone, and that these are normal thoughts to come up any time you are considering doing something that is outside of your normal routine and a different way of doing things.
Please remember that there is no "right" way to do this. When I begin charting I literally just take out a page of paper and jot down on the left side some big projects & events and when they're happening for me, and then from each of those dates on the left column I draw a down sloping curve to the right side of the page. I then take note of when in the days or weeks ahead those down sloping curves will be, and can start to see where I'll need support, or to prioritize slowing down & self care.
For one of my private clients it has been useful to just have this awareness. Even though she hasn't started actually charting things down on a page, she has a new awareness around her time and is learning about her personal cycles, tendencies in her life, and is able to make more conscious choices of how she spends her time.
If you would like personal help with this, we can set up a time to talk and explore what you are experiencing, and how working together could support you to have more awareness of your cycles, and learn a powerful practice of centering, grounding, and supporting your whole self: body, heart and mind.
PS - If you’re caring for a baby, breast - or chestfeeding, you can use this same idea of a tide chart to support you through the ebb and flow of your day. It takes a lot of energy to care for and feed a little one with your body, and when you begin to account for that - intentionally building in restorative time after feeding/pumping or while baby is sleeping - you can begin to feel a lot more supported without a lot more effort.
For instance, giving some attention and energy to yourself after you have given so much loving care and attention to your baby can help to fill you up to feel more rejuvenated. Try this after a feeding or pumping: once things are settled and your hands are free, taking a moment to do a few stretches of your arms, neck, and shoulders can help to unwind tension and nourish your body & energy. See how it feels and let me know what you notice when you build in some intentional restorative low-tide moments like this!