Dancing to your own beat: Finding our rhythm in a world that doesn't stop

by Taylor Bryant

We had a 70 degree day in Chicago...in February. Some part of me wanted to wear a different sun dress every hour just so I could feel the sun warm my legs. The other part of me couldn’t stop thinking about polar bears and melting ice caps. 

Our world was designed to be balanced. Seasons of planting, then growing, harvesting, then resting.  Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. We work. We sleep to recharge. There are natural rhythms. And when those rhythms are ignored, there are consequences. 

Pulling an all-nighter may get the job done, but your body will function at a lower capacity as a result. Brunching outside in February feels fantastic, but there is an environmental cost. 

So many of us fail to build our own rhythms or to abide by them. Often times our body tells us that we can’t continue anymore, and we ignore its warnings until everything is brought to a head. We go, go, go until we are forcibly stopped.

So how do we stop the cycle of burn out and start building healthy cycles of work and restoration? It’s as simple and as difficult as making time to listen to our lives.

Try this. At the end of each day, write a bulleted list of everything you did, from watching Netflix to completing a client project to grabbing coffee with a friend. Include the length of time spent on each task if you want extra credit; record your food intake, too, if you really want to go above and beyond. Then write how you’re feeling. It sounds daunting, but this process should only take about five minutes.

By month’s end you’ll have enough information to start seeing patterns and making connections. You could observe that consuming too much media makes you feel uncreative.  You might notice that participating in more than two after work events in a week starts to burn you out . Maybe there are small agitations that slowly build up during the month, eventually leading to a meltdown.

Armed with your observations, you can start to create rhythms, rituals, and boundaries that work for your own life. They could be as small as taking a bath every week or as far-reaching as choosing to no longer take on a particular type of client. 

Own your newly established rhythms. Protect them. Return to self-examination when things start to feel off-kilter. And watch yourself begin to flourish.

LeadKaren Spears