Have You Got Rhythm?
by Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.
One definition for the word "balance" offered by Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary is “mental and emotional steadiness.” Personally, I would expand that
definition to include physical and spiritual aspects,
and I also believe that living in balance is more about
resilience than steadiness. More about managing our
energy in a wavelike fashion rather than in a flat-out,
We might expend extreme physical
energy training for a marathon, but if we do so in
spurts, alternating with periods of rest, we not only
maintain physical equilibrium, we actually become
stronger. The same is true about emotional energy. We
might risk opening up to someone and feel a flood of
emotion that leaves us drained, but when we recover we
feel more empowered. Without the stretch we’d become
emotionally numb. But, without the recovery we wear out.
It’s the undulating rhythm of effort and rest that keeps
us in balance.
Remember the last time that you
taxed your poor brain for hours trying to solve a
problem, find the right words, or come up with something
new? If you’re like most of us, you worked hard, pushed
past your productive period, and finally gave up and
engaged in some distraction. Then…zap…just like that…on
your walk, in the shower, or on the ride home lightning
struck! The answer appeared. What happened? You
surrendered to your ultradian rhythms-one key to living
in balance. Just as we are hard-wired by circadian
rhythms for a natural wake/sleep cycle in a day, we are
hard-wired by ultradian rhythms to experience several
waves of energy throughout the day, each followed by a
need for rest. About every 90 to 120 minutes our energy
peaks and falls (see The Twenty Minute Break by
Ernest Rossi). Then, if we take a 10- to 20-minute
break, a new cycle of focus and performance begins. If,
however, we ignore the demand for a quick rest – pushing
on beyond our mind/body limits – we move into the stress
response and our health, performance, and attitude are
all diminished. Running on adrenaline and compensating
with sugar or caffeine only worsens the problem. Soon,
you’ll be running on empty, getting sick, and your
system will crash (since hospitalization is the only
rest perceived as legitimate for many people in today’s
But, what if you decided that you
wanted to live more in balance, so you’d try recharging
every couple of hours? Suppose tomorrow, starting at two
hours from when you awaken and every 90 to 120 minutes
thereafter, you set your watch and “scheduled” a break?
Would you feel more balanced, productive, creative, and
energized? My guess is “yes.” Through research, personal
experience, and years of working with clients, I’m
convinced that waiting for vacation to relax is far too
little and way too late. Regular recharging – every few
hours, wherever you are – is key to optimal living.
Stop and take a power nap,
meditate, pray, or just breathe deeply and slowly in a
quiet place. If you’re sitting at a keyboard roll your
shoulders up and back, or get up and get physical. If
you’re exerting yourself physically, rest. If you’re
worrying about a problem, stop and take a gratitude
walk – mentally listing all that you are specifically
grateful for today. Feeling blessed is a good
distraction from fear. Or commit an act of kindness for
someone else. According to research by Martin Seligman,
author of Authentic Happiness, it’s a fast and
lasting way to more happiness. Drink a tall glass of
water, weed a flower patch, sit by a fountain, call a
friend, visit a chapel, file a few folders, or even
clean out a drawer. Just notice when you’re on the
downside of an energy cycle (yawning, reading the same
sentence twice, fumbling your words, forgetting things,
or drawing a blank are all good signs) and take a break.
Living in balance means balancing effort and
rest-all day long. Give your best, then recharge…and
then you’ll be ready to give your best again.
© Copyright 2005 Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D. All rights
Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.,
is a life-balance expert, author, and national lecturer. Through her writing, coaching, and seminars, she helps individuals and work teams reach their full potential. With a personal mission to nurture growth, she supports practices that lead to energy, empowerment, and the realization of meaningful goals.
Suzanne’s books include Teams At Work: 7 Keys To Success (Tower Hill Press, 1997), The Participative Leader (McGraw Hill, 1995), Create A Life That Tickles Your Soul (Tower Hill Press, 1999) available in paperback as well as
hardcover, and her newest, Recharge In Minutes (Tower
Hill Press, 2003). All are available online and from major retailers.
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