Let’s proclaim this National Stress Reduction Week.
Try as we may to avoid it, in our techno-driven culture we are still essentially and completely biological beings, linked inextricably with natural cycles of moon, sun, heat, cold, and time. Our bodies and minds, not that they are separate, are on a circadian rhythm (as in “circle), and squirt out all the right things from the right glands at the right time partly because the natural light cycle has told them to. When we’re healthy, it’s partly because our well nourished bodies are in sync with the sun.
So what happens in a very, very, very busy society when everyone loses an hour? Keep in mind, this includes millions of people who “don’t have time” for even 10 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of meditation, 45 minutes for slowly and consciously eating a meal, 5 minutes of focused breathing or aerobics, or a variety of other stress-reducing, health enhancing daily activities which only take a few minutes. Hundreds of millions of such people just lost a WHOLE HOUR over last weekend. I say, let’s not expect too much of them or ourselves for a few days.
When my children were young, I noticed that they were grumpy, irritable, and somewhat disoriented in the days following the onset of day-light-savings-time. Their little bodies were just getting used to having the gentle dawn finally lighting up the morning sky as they struggled out of bed to get ready for school…..and then all of a sudden it was dark again in the morning get-ready hour. I felt the same way. Sure it was great to be lighter in the afternoon, but what about this still dark morning? In addition, we really lose that hour. Of course, we don’t lose an hour of time, but in the rhythm of our day, in what is expected of us, and in what we expect from ourselves, we are thrown off synchronization with both our habits and with the natural light cycle. This is a true stressor of a biological nature. It takes some time to adjust.
As such, I suggest that in the future, we declare the week after the beginning of Daylight Saving Time as “Time Change Stress Reduction Week”. We can use this as a late winter excuse to be more patient with ourselves, our children, our students, our employees, our bosses, and everyone else we know. We can take an extra nap, get that massage we’ve been tempted by for ages, or make time for an extra yoga class. We can eat particularly well, eschewing some of the more drug-like foods: the sugar, caffeine, or chemical laden foods that can be particularly tempting when we’re tired. We can procrastinate a little, knowing that we can catch up next weekend at home…and next week at work.
We can assure ourselves that it’s OK to do this. We can resolve to — speaking of natural light — spend more time outside, and know that when the strong sun rays come back, we’re going to go out and make Vitamin D on a regular basis so we can avoid the many health problems now associated with widespread Vitamin D deficiency.
Even if it only takes you a few days to really get back on track with the time change, I suggest taking the whole week to take particularly good care of yourself. This kind of awareness, patience and tolerance is, in the end, a good thing to practice all of the time. It re-generates us so we don’t de-generate. We’re all usually adjusting to something, and when it comes down to it, everybody is always putting together a thousand influences and doing the best they can at any given moment.