Everything we know is made up of cycles.
- There is the movement of the planets, the oceanic tides, and our very own seasons here on earth which come around each and every year.
- We have cycles of sleep and wake times, cycles of blood around our bodies, and let’s not forget our breathing cycles.
- And then there is the cycle of life itself with birth to adolescence, onto maturity and eventually death.
Those are just a few quick examples, but you get the gist – everything runs on cycles – and if everything runs on cycles then wouldn’t things be a lot easier if our style of life worked in harmony with them?
I’ve been studying this intensely on myself the last few weeks as lockdown has presented a wonderful opportunity for me to do so with less of the usual day to day distractions vying for my time. And what I have noticed is that my mind and body is working on a cycling routine of maintenance, regardless of my conscious actions to control it.
Most of us either run our businesses on quarterly cycles, or we work for companies that do. And these work around the low and high seasons of business – the quiet and peak times – and we work our personal lives around these times by booking social activity and holidays inline with this.
But what about the rest of it?
What about our eating and drinking cycles? Our exercise and activity cycles? Our creativity cycles?
We tell ourselves to eat more healthily, drink less alcohol, exercise more, think more creatively, be more productive etc. But what if there were specific times that we should be focusing on each of these things, and other times when we should just relax? What if we should actually be leaning into the natural cycle of each instead of trying to focus on everything at the same time?
The way of life that lockdown has presented is pretty far removed from what we are used to so one could argue it’s an unrealistic time to be conducting lifestyle experiments, however, none of us really have any idea what the ‘new normal’ will be and so I believe that gives us every opportunity to create a new lifestyle for ourselves.
For me, the last 6 weeks have seen a variety of behaviour; quite erratic at times I’ll admit
I’ve had periods of intense productivity at work, and then times where I’ve struggled to type a quick response e-mail.
Binge eating and drinking have reigned many days, but beautiful salads laden with lean protein and kale have reigned many others.
My ability to binge a Netflix series has astounded me but, there have also been days when I’ve had no desire to even walk into the living room.
And there have been mornings where I’ve danced out of bed (literally!) at 5am, and others where I’ve struggled to peel my eyes from the pillow at 9am.
Now, I know we’ve all been riding the waves the last few weeks but I believe there is more to it than that.
In Episode 1 of the #NoFilterNeeded podcast, Zoe and I were discussing the ‘set point theory’ which is in relation to one’s body weight. Your set point is the weight range in which your body is programmed to function optimally and will always want to get to regardless if you put on or lose weight. You can work around your set point weight, but it will require a lot of energy and focus to do so as your body will want to return to normal.
When you push your body out of it’s natural set point weight the body kicks in survival mechanisms to bring it back to equilibrium. I believe that brain functionality with it’s productivity and flows of creativity work in much the same way.
Extreme weight loss can be achieved through dieting and exercise, however, we will always have to expend more energy and focus to override our bodies default maintenance system. For instance, to reach a weight loss goal there is a healthy lifestyle aspect but also a certain degree of trickery on your body’s natural rhythm – ‘carb cycling’ would be a prime example of this. And so, much like dieting, once we are aware of our body’s natural cycles we can manipulate them to our advantage to enhance productivity and creativity for any personal or professional success.
But to do this you need to have some awareness (and compassion) for yourself and that’s accepting that your mind and body needs to regulate on it’s own and sometimes you just have to let that be.
You are not a machine, you are human and an extremely complex (and wonderful) creature.
If you set out to do certain things for the day but your body or mind have other ideas then it would be in your best interest to accept that; let it be and wait for the brain fog and lethargy to lift instead of pushing on with whatever you set out to do.
So during lockdown I have loosened the reigns, and instead of being the interferer, I have been the observer…
I have watched and felt what my mind and body would do if left to it’s own devices. Naturally, it had a freak out at first with the drastic change in circumstances, but it has been ebbing and flowing the whole time.
What I’ve been feeling these past few weeks is technically no real change from normal. I battle with energy levels, with eating and drinking patterns, with motivation for exercise and with my moods most days.
But the difference in the last 4 weeks?
I’ve not engaged in the battle, I’ve simply let it be.
And the result?
My weight is the same despite some seriously irregular diet and exercise routine changes. And overall I’ve been just as productive with days lost to Netflix. In fact, I could argue that I’ve been more productive, enjoying my days far more as I’ve been working WITH myself these past few weeks instead of AGAINST myself.
My body has been maintaining itself regardless of how much I’ve been consciously trying to control it.
There are so many cycles at play within us so as we work our lifestyle around the more tangible ones, we should do the same with our internal cycles.
There may be times you want to push against what your body and mind want to do, and there are of course sometimes when you need to, but try not to change too much what you are. Take the path of least resistance, there is so much more joy to be experienced living with yourself rather than against.
Keep Smiling, Keep Shining.