Solstice time? Oscillation time!

Around the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere, and incidentally the summer solstice of the Southern one, like here in Sydney, Australia, it seems that the world agrees to slow down for a few days. It is not exactly a time for complete relaxation, with all the work, preparation and sometimes sheer anxiety that goes behind multiple family and friends gatherings, but it feels like the whole world retreats for a few days. It is even more palpable in Australia, with the start of summer holidays: work and life just seem more quiet.

Oscillation between the spending of energy (like high activity, or stress) and energy recovery is believed to be essential by psychologists, not just for high performing athletes, but also for people like you and I (and I realize here that you may actually be an athlete… in any case, you will need to regularly oscillate in your life!). Integrating moments of relaxation, rest and restoration of our energy levels is necessary to keep functioning at high levels of performance the rest of the time. A lack of these in the long term have serious consequences not only on performance, but also on physical and emotional health, leaving our energy levels depleted, and making us feel overwhelmed and risking burnout.

So could the world be intuitively self-organising to “oscillate” this time of year, and make us stop to refresh? Possibly. Research in psychology shows we should embrace these pauses in our lives, and actually slow down for a while. If you sometimes feel guilty about taking a moment to recuperate or relax and stretch for a few minutes, about stepping away from the housework to stop cleaning up after the kids (any parent out there?), or having lunch away from your desk at work, going outside for a walk, even when your emails are piling up, including the ones with a red exclamation mark, please don’t. You are doing yourself, your performance —and your long term health — a favour.

How can we build more of this oscillation in our daily lives, to keep the way we perform and our life satisfaction at a level with which we are happy? What do you do to recuperate? And what else could you introduce into your routine to promote this oscillation? Even if it’s just one thing! I’d love to hear from you.