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Get into the rhythm of life
Beat fatigue by living your life with rhythm. By Alan Hosking
Just about everything around us – including the universe that has been around for hundreds of billions of years – operates according to a rhythm. The rhythms may be different for different things, but they’re nevertheless there. At a more down-to-earth level, marathon runners get into a rhythm which helps them run distances of up to 100 kilometres.
One definition of rhythm is: a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. We are constantly surrounded by rhythm – year after year, century after century, the earth orbits around the sun according to a rhythm, the seasons change according to a rhythm, we experience the rhythm of summer and winter, day and night. Our hearts beat according to a rhythm, we breathe in, we breathe out – all part of the rhythm of life.
We enjoy the wonderful rhythms of the music we listen to. Rhythm is the most important element in music. It provides structure and cohesion for the music. Without rhythm, it is very difficult for music to have any form. Rhythm provides us with a sense of continuity – we know the form of the song. Musical rhythms get us up on our feet to dance, they can encourage or inspire us, or cause us to feel mellow and relaxed. Such is the power of rhythm in our lives.
Yet when it comes to the way we live our lives, few of us understand that, in order to live the marathon of life in a way that enables us to stay the distance, we need to live according to a rhythm.
One of the causes of fatigue I have noted over and over again in high performers’ lives is that their lives lack a rhythm. There is no strong, regular, repeated pattern in the way they live. How then can one introduce a rhythm into the way you live?
Starting with the basics, it’s important to get a rhythm into your wakefulness and sleep. Simply put, that means you need to get to sleep at more or less the same time every night and wake at more or less the same time every morning – and ensure you get sufficient sleep! By doing this, you get your body’s natural bio clock into a rhythm and it becomes very comfortable operating according to this rhythm.
Secondly, you need to introduce a rhythm into the way you eat, meaning that you should always try to eat at the same times of the day, more or less. You may already know that conventional wisdom has shifted from the “three meals a day” approach to healthy eating to a “five small portions” a day habit. That means that it’s still important to eat three regular (but smallish) meals a day with a healthy mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack in between.
Sure, we all face the urge to eat as and when it suits us or when we feel like it. You may say, “I’m not a breakfast person,” but still wonder why you’re always tired. Duh … time to start making the connections! Thirdly, you need to introduce a rhythm into the way you exercise your body. By now most of us know that exercising in an intense way for a week or two then leaving it for another few weeks is not the answer. Nor is an intense three-hour exercise session on an ad hoc basis. Some people exercise every day. Others exercise three times a week. Some exercise in the early morning, others at lunch, and yet others after work. You need to find the time of day that works best for you then stick with the rhythm – that strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement. The rhythm that works best for me is a one-day-on, one-day-off pattern, regardless of the day of the week.
It is then also important to introduce a rhythm into your family life whereby you have regular meals with your family, like dinner after work. This regular pattern enables the family members to stay connected with one another, something that keeps the family unit emotionally healthy.
Rhythm should also feature in your leisure activities, so that there is a an “on” and an “off” in the way you live, just like there’s a “breathe in” and a “breathe out”. Remember Mr Miyagi in the old movie Karate Kid?
While it’s important to see a doctor if you have severe fatigue and you can’t attribute it to anything obvious, when you introduce rhythm into these and other aspects of your life, you will find your fatigue levels dropping without your necessarily having to resort to all sorts of pills to pep you up.
Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, and a leadership renewal coach.