The human body needs to re-set.
Despite our efforts to be “on all the time”, our natural internal cycles take us up… and down. This is true on a day-to-day basis. We wake, we peak, we sleep. It is also true on a larger scale. For those of us who live in seasonal climates, it’s most obvious. Spring is a time of waking up… summer the peak… and fall a time of coming down.
Yet most of us also naturally cycle through ups and downs at various mid-range time frames as well.
We just don’t like to admit it.
Think about the last time things stopped going “well” for you. Yes, that one. Suddenly the activities that used to happen easily took more effort. Perhaps your body even obliged with an illness or depression to put the breaks on your usual daily grind.
This weekend I was reminded that coming down is truly a non-negotiable. Despite my training in the wisdom of the body, and generally feminine nature, it’s still easy for me to get swept up in “have to get it done” as I run my business.
The ah-ha came this morning when I woke up feeling ALIVE for the first time in ten days after a much resisted full-and-total bottoming out last night.
What does that look like?
Use your imagination. Some of the most common ways to come down are not so fun – a “bad” day, a common cold, a technology malfunction, a minor accident, an argument with a lover or spouse.
Some of the more pleasant ways include a warm bath, a golf outing, a full body massage, a heavy dinner and a few glasses of wine, and good sex. (Yes, I’ll take the risk to include sex here! Not only is it an excellent full-body reset, but if we’re talking about pleasurable ways to down-cycle, it’s one of the best.)
The truth is, our bodies need to re-set.
In the linear world we have created for ourselves, the illusion of the energizer bunny “going and going and going” has us on the edge of our seats. And when we can’t sit there any longer, we’re prone to falling off.
We call it burnout.
I call it smart.
Our bodies literally know we need to rest, and they (let’s say for a moment they’ve got an intelligence that is somewhat different from our own) will make sure that we do – one way or another.
But it’s not just about rest. It’s actually about non-linearity of experience as well. It’s about up-cycling and down-cycling as part of the natural rhythm of life. Over-riding it has consequences. Yet that’s just the beginning.
Even more than that – optimal performance relies on it.
Professional athletes, savvy CEOs and expert motivational speakers know that in order to sustain an image of “up” while in the game, they must come “down” to re-tool and re-fuel.
It’s good sense.
Working with the design of the human body, rather than aiming to override it, enhances your stamina, well-being, and improves your results at large.
In the school of life, this lesson is a non-negotiable. We can learn to do it well… or we can relegate ourselves to being schooled again, and again, spending time in what feels like detention for not proactively doing the homework.
Still need convincing?
Take a moment and think about the last time you brought yourself “down” – or were brought down by seemingly malevolent external – or internal – circumstances.
How did you get there?
Typically, for the clients I support, the longer and more fierce the hold-out, the harder the fall in the end. In my training programs on wellness and leadership stamina, I encourage leaders to first learn to listen… then practice coming down.
This week I encourage you to spend some time getting to know the rhythms of your body – do a bit of research on the sensations and emotions that cue you in to up-cycle and down-cycle moments.
In your movement practice,
Whether you jog, hike, swim or dance, pay attention this week to the high point and low point in your energy during your practice. Notice where you start from. Is your body high-strung and tense? Are you dragging yourself onto the mat? As you move through your workout, cue in to the sensations in your body that indicate an energetic peak… then notice the natural slide down the other side. Depending on your workout, this may happen several times – or the come down may happen later as you settle into your evening routine.
For years I have joked that I “don’t like Zumba.” It’s not fair, and to be honest, it’s not exactly true. I love Latin dance. I love the music. And as a seasoned Nia instructor, I’m a huge proponent of fun as a critical part of a work-out routine. My biggest beef with Zumba has been the (typical) lack of facilitated come down at the end.
If we use our workouts to get high, we need to have our own “come down” practices in place.
If we don’t, it’s akin to plugging ourselves into an electric outlet for a quick boost, rather than allowing the regenerating energy battery inside of us learn to efficiently deplete and naturally re-charge.
Get to know your authentic rhythm. Not the rhythm you see on TV, or imagine your boss to have, or wish you could sustain. Your. Authentic. Rhythm. Absent any overrides. Check in with your energy right now. Are you on the upswing? At a peak? Headed down? Stuck somewhere near the bottom?
Pay attention for the next seven days to the ebb and flow of energy. Give yourself the gift of listening more than you usually do. Then, instead of performing your usual over-ride tricks (e.g. a few extra cups of coffee) ask yourself, what would it look like to build re-set time into your schedule?
One of the best kept secrets I can offer is this:
down doesn’t necessarily mean done. Some of my best creative ideas have come during, or after, a full down-cycle.
But don’t take my word for it. Do the research.
Find out what gifts your own body’s natural rhythm has to offer.
In curious observation,