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01.26.23 | Sage Advice

Control How You Maneuver Your Day With Ultradian Rhythms

Everyone feels the ups and downs of a day. There are typically moments when we’re energized and excited, but we also all have times when we feel stressed and fatigued. Because this is a regular occurrence for many of us, we don’t usually think about the cycle behind those emotions. Today, we’re spotlighting the science of ultradian rhythms and how you can use your body’s natural cycle to reduce burnout and boost productivity. 

What are ultradian rhythms?

While the term ultradian rhythm sounds complicated, the concept is quite simple! An ultradian rhythm, at its core, is a recurrent cycle that dictates how our bodies function daily. The word ultradian means “cycles in a day”, and rhythms apply to the up and down waves the cycles follow. And, like any other pattern or cycle our bodies follow, ultradian rhythms have a powerful effect on our body’s health and wellbeing, and when disrupted, they can affect more than we think. 

What a day might look like

Throughout the day, ultradian rhythm waves naturally move up and down, affecting performance, mood and everything in between. So, when your body tells you that you’re tired and distracted before noon, it’s doing the right thing! At this point, your ultradian rhythm is experiencing a trough and is telling you that you need to take a break. You may also experience an ultradian performance peak during the day, where your energy is the highest it will be throughout the day. 

Many of us learn that a day starts when we wake up, we go go go, and then the day ends, but in reality, the human body can’t function properly with that lifestyle. What we aren’t taught is that once we wake up, our bodies go through the same natural cycles every day, affecting everything we do. 

Start listening to your ultradian rhythm and learn that even when you’re feeling down or low-energy, it’s natural to take a break. So, whether you close your eyes and meditate or walk around the block, the less you ignore your body and the more you learn to understand it, the more vibrant your life will be.

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01.12.21 | Sage Advice

Feeling Exhausted? The Science Behind Pandemic Burnout

As part of our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, we at Sage Collective advocate for stress reduction. We recognize stress as a natural, regular occurrence and aim to help our followers learn to manage, to control and to minimize stress.

But we’ll be the first to admit that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (in March of what’s officially become last year), stress levels have been higher than ever. If you’ve been feeling excessively stressed, burnt out and unable to focus — you’re not alone. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the science behind pandemic-related stress and burnout. 

There’s a reason everyone’s been referring to COVID-19 as “unprecedented.” We’ve never experienced anything quite like this in our lives. Worrying about a global pandemic, public health and safety, our personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of those we love, not to mention financial concerns, food security struggles and more — it’s an inordinate amount of stress for human beings to take on all at once. And the demand of feeling all these things at once is taking a toll on our bodies.

Allostatic load demonstrated visually
Allostatic load demonstrated visually

Allostatic load refers to the impact of cumulative wear and tear — the impact of carrying all that stress, for example. And allostatic overload refers to the point at which the demand of our stress overtakes the capability of our mind and body to keep up. As demonstrated above, we can look at our allostatic load as a bell curve. Too little stimulation from stress, we’ll be underloaded, understimulated and stagnant as  human beings. But too much stimulation from stress, and we’ll be overloaded, overstimulated and exhausted to the point of burnout.

Many of us are in the throes of allostatic overload. Our bodies have been constantly perceiving a potential threat, and therefore they’ve been producing hormones like adrenaline and cortisone, handy responses to temporary stressors.  However, in the case of a prolonged stressor such as the pandemic, our bodies continually overload themselves with these hormones, which are actually toxic to our physiological systems. 

So your feelings of stress, exhaustion and burnout — they’re only natural. But acknowledging the reality of the problem is only half the battle. How do we even begin to combat burnout and fatigue? 

First, self care is absolutely crucial. Prioritize taking care of your body through healthy habits like regular exercise, healthy diet and getting your best night’s sleep. Prioritize taking care of your mind, too, by making time to practice gratitude and indulge in doing things you love. And secondly, be mindful to take care of others, too. Finding ways to safely connect with friends, family and community will serve as a reminder that you’re not alone — we’re all in this together.

An older African American adult steps aside to take off his mask for a moment
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