When I was running through life, towards my first and most severe fatigue syndrome – crash, I didn’t know what season it was. I was to busy trying to just finish this project, fulfill that expectation, that everything outside my very narrow focus was just shadows.
Now that I have slowed down, I’ve found that there are many natural rhythms in my life. Big ones, like the seasons (autumn is beginning to clear the floor for winter here in the north of Sweden). And smaller ones, like when I grow tired during the day and need to rest, or in the evening when I need to go to sleep. Or my hunger, that has it’s own rhythm that varies with what I eat and what I do in a day. Some of my personal rhythms are longer – just the other day I noticed that there is a rhythm to how my weight varies over the year. And I need more sleep in the darkest months than I do in summer.
Now, when I’m trying to live a simpler life with more joy and less struggle, I’ve found that respecting my body’s own rhythm helps a lot. I work only 20 hours a week, and my workplace allows flexible hours. This has enabled me to, for the first time in my life, to work when I am at my best. I’ve always been tired in the mornings. Now I can set my alarm at an hour when I’ve more often than not already woke up without it, take my time without stress and get to work feeling ready to take on the day. Usually that means that I work 9 am to 1 pm. But also within that time I have times when my thinking is clearer and I can be more creative, and times when I’m better off doing routine work. There will be days when I’m feeling tired for some reason, I try to save more mechanical work for those days. You know, that stuff that needs to be done every once in a while but requires very little actual thinking. Routine work can be very relaxing.
When I try to tweak my life to make it better, knowing my rhythm helps. Like when I want to find a way to fulfill this month’s challenge to increase the number of steps I take in a day. I know that in the afternoon, after work, I’m always tired and need to rest. I know that in the late evening I need to settle down if I want to be able to sleep when I need to, and a walk will wake me up. So I decided on walking to and from work instead of biking like I used to, and adding a short walk around 6 pm. That also serves as a reminder to myself to start doing more relaxing things – reading, watching an episode of a good show, taking a bath, spending time with Mr Livslevandes… Rewind. Recharge.
I’ve also recently realized that I’ve been adapting to Mr L’s hunger-rhythm instead of following my own. He works shifts, one week mornings, one week evenings. When he works mornings he gets home around 4 pm, very hungry which suits me fine. But when he works evenings he’s been cooking when I get home from work att around 1.15, and we’ve had lunch together. Which is very nice – except that I’m not really hungry then. And that puts my system out of tune, so that later in the evening I often find myself standing in front of the fridge or cupboard, not really hungry but wanting something… usually something that’s not good for me. So I’ve decided that I won’t be eating lunch with him – we can still spend the time together, but I don’t need to eat to do that. The important thing is that we connect, after all. (And we’ll see – I suspect he’ll start eating lunch earlier when he doesn’t have to wait for me to come home, and can follow his own rhythm as well.)
Nowadays, when I give myself the time to listen to myself, I can work in sync with my nature instead of against it. That makes most things easier and more joyful. That’s also one of the tools I use to avoid another relapse into fatigue syndrome.
Are you in touch with your rhythms? And nature’s rhythm – without looking out the window, can you tell me what’s going on with the leaves on the trees outside at this moment? (Are they changing to autumn colors, or have they – like the ones around here – already let go and fallen to the ground? If you’re in another hemisphere, or reading this some time after I posted it, maybe the branches are stark and bare, or the buds are swelling, or starting to burst with that beautiful first green of spring… or maybe the leaves are chlorophyll-laden and the full, rich green of summer?)