It’s funny how serendipity works. I have started to notice intriguing things about rhythms, seasons and flows from so many places recently. So, I’ve started to take notice, like real notice. I love science and I love wellness and this is where the two align.
I spent many years in lighting where we studied the circadian rhythm. The effects of the time of day and light on our bodies. We all know its best to have a dark room to sleep in and we’ve all experienced jet lag, so I’m guessing you know what I’m talking about.
So what rhythms are there? And how do they effect our sense of well being? Getting to know how you pulse through these rhythms in life, accepting them and knowing how to use them will open up a whole new way to look at life.
This is the circadian one. It effects all living things including us and is manifested in specific brain wave activity, hormone production and other biological stuff. There are ways it can be controlled or optimised – just google ‘life hacks’. Its why we all feel sleepy at night and more awake in the daylight. But I think there’s more to our daily pace than this, I think we each have a unique daily flow.
You will hear people say ‘I’m a night owl’, or ‘I’m not a morning person’. Getting to know what your body, mind and soul responds to at different points in the day is super important. It means you can match activity to your mood or capacity. I have a golden window for action from lunch time to around 7pm. Outside of that zone I’m still good but I respond differently. I like to reflect and nest in the evenings, I like to take time to awaken and focus in the mornings. So now I’m trying to acknowledge this and match it with the right activity for me. My evening Yoga class is perfect timing, whereas starting the day with a jog just wouldn’t suit me.
What zones do you have during your day? What emotional states are you in and what activities would best suit them?
Our months and weeks have a rhythm too. That Friday night feeling versus the Monday morning commute… Or, for us ladies, the monthly cycle of periods. Or even our monthly financial cycles. You know that one, from yay! to okaaaay, to oh no…
It’s good to take a new look at that weekly cycle. To get the Friday feelings during the whole week, to take away the anxiety and stress of a Sunday evening/Monday morning. Take a look at your week and find the hotspots for good and bad vibes. Try and spread the good times, do something on a school night that you see as weekend activity. Diminish the power of a Monday morning by adding some joy to it – it could be as simple as listening to your favourite podcast on the commute.
Understanding the menstrual cycle and how it affects you is also empowering women around the world. From menstrual cycle coaches like Alisha Rose Kruger to women looking at the longer cycle like menopause like Jill Chmielewski. We have been taught to not talk about the menstrual cycle, or if we do it’s with rolling eyes and jokes about PMT. Now we can be open and honest, and we can accept the big impact it has on us every month.
I’m in my mid-forties and I have noticed a real change in my pace, energy and mindset over the last few years. I know that much of this is down to my wellness practices, creating the life I want and clarifying my purpose, but I also know that some of this is to do with my age. Not in a numerical sense, but in a rhythmic sense. I have slightly older kids, my body is changing, my friends are mostly in the same situation – these all impact on my rhythms.
Being open to these changes and celebrating them makes for a very powerful and positive experience. I have been awed by my kids in the last few years, seeing them unfold and develop as humans has far outweighed the sad sentimentality of ‘losing’ them as babies.
Reflect on where you are in your life, take nothing for granted and celebrate wherever you are at. Cultivate a sense of achievement, pride and happiness in being right where you are. This rhythm will affect the big things in your life, where you live, career choices, who you hang out with. It’s no surprise retirees go to live in the country, or that grads leave town for the big city.
The time of the year is integral to how we feel. I’m a Spring/early Summer person. I seem to come out of hibernation and bloom like the nature around me. I grew up on the travelling fair and in Spring it was always a time of happiness and preparation for an exciting year ahead, time to make ready, to move on, to explore. I have no doubt that this learned behaviour has made me favour Spring over the years. Do you love the concept of Hygge and favour autumn and winter? Do you love to be out catching the ‘rays in Summer?
I’ve been introduced to the concept of non-calendar seasons recently by a wonderful coach, artist, and writer Nicola Newman. She talked to me about seasons like ‘creation’, ‘reflection’, and ‘action’ as opposed to Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Seasons in your life can be whatever you want them to be, they can be as long as you like too. I think they are a combination of what has gone before and what we still desire to create.
If you contemplate where you are now and where you want to be, you will know what you need to get there. That thing that you want to cultivate, that mood, that feeling, that situation, that is your season. So, if you were getting over an illness and wanted to get to a place of health you might be in a season of rest, or of movement or of patience.
These seasons are great because they can frame your decision making and help you communicate to other people,
“I’m not committing to that night out right now as I’m in a season of recuperation. It’s how I’m going to move forward from my illness to a place of wellness. This season will change and in the future I might be ready to party.”
In modern life we often think of time and efficiency as the same thing. We have meetings in blocks of time that outlook says we can, we match our pace to the train timetable, we break our focus into lesson or lecture slots, we separate ourselves into ‘work me’ from ‘home me’ between 9 and 5. But these are all external time constraints. They aren’t in tune with our own personal and unique flow.
I understand we can’t change everything in our days and lives to match our own rhythms, but we accommodate them more. We can optimise our lives to make the most of our rhythms. Who knows what joys that will unlock in us?