Falling Behind to Get Ahead
We live in an "insta" world where saving time has become more of a survival tactic than a way to improve our lives.
What do we do with the time we save? We spend it on our phones, at the work desk, and in traffic. No matter how hard we try to take short cuts to make up for lost time it seems like we don't really get any more done or get anywhere faster.
We forget how well designed we really are, and that every time we take a short cut we are also impacting the rhythms we depend on.
Evolution is the architect of your life. You were built for a world that runs in alignment with the cycles of nature (with a little wiggle room for adaptation to stress).
Your body's natural rhythm
Your body is completely aligned with the earth. You have an internal circadian clock that functions within a 24-hour window that has been running non-stop inside organisms before you were even born.
Every cell in your body is connected to this clock, as are your hormones, sleep cycles, body temperature, brain, and metabolism. Things like artificial light, skipping meals, and staying up too late all deeply effect this rhythm you depend on for your health, and messing with it leads to all sorts of symptoms and problems.
When you wake up in the morning you rise with the sun and then begin to wind down when it sets. Your hormone insulin, which regulates the level of blood sugar in your body, follows the same pattern.
For centuries a woman's menstrual cycle has been considered a reflection of the moon phases. Modern life has created a disconnection from this natural rhythm resulting in her being medically encouraged to take birth control pills to become more "regular".
We've become impatient with our mind and body's ability to keep up with the pace we so intensely try to maintain. This disrespect forces the body to create its own health hacks.
Photo by Cindy Tang on Unsplash
The back up plan
There are all sorts of contingency plans that have been naturally put into place inside your body as a way to keep things running when you become run down.
For example, the pro-hormone pregnenolone is necessary (along with cholesterol) to make all of the other hormones in your body (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormone).
When you're in a state of chronic stress your body will make the hormone cortisol a top priority as a way of helping you stay "alive" when you're "threatened".
Now meet the pregnenolone steal.
In this body bio-hack, pregnenolone is shunted away from normal hormone production toward the production of cortisol to meet the demand of stress. This is just one of the ways your body naturally hacks an important system that is normally following a very efficient, and beautifully rhythmic process.
The pregnenalone steal offers a wonderful reminder to step back and evaluate all the ways your attempts to save time might be impacting your health.
Falling back into rhythm
Perhaps a better approach to saving time would be to do things right from the beginning. Time is a construct that we commoditize, so you have to decide what's truly valuable.
If it's your health then you'll want to start making your body's natural rhythm more of a priority. Taking care of yourself is actually a way to buy more time if you see having energy, resilience and a strong immune system as being a form of efficiency.
The best way to do this is to honor what's truly natural both physically and environmentally. Using the inner-workings of the body as both a metaphor, and a real life example of how things are supposed to be provides a basis for what health really is.
Pushing yourself to the limits and demanding that your body keep up (and it will at the expense of your health), will not buy you time. It actually robs you of quality of life.
Instead of stealing a moment of time, set an intention to create space for things to happen organically. Breathe more deeply, eat a breakfast that aligns with your circadian rhythm (ie. not a muffin), turn off your computer at sunset, and explore the natural wonder of your inner and outer life.
Falling behind is an act of self-care, and a healthy way to get ahead.