I’m a BIG FAN of magic, and today I just had to share ultradian rhythm awareness with you.
For my day job, I teach an internship reflection class at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. At the end of the class, students write a reflective “My Career Future” paper where they think back on what they did at their internship and what they learned about themselves and what they will do next on their career path. This summer, we added in a question about what it was like to work remotely.
One of my students had this to say in their paper:
“When I would find myself losing focus during the workday, I would take a quick break and then get back to work, as I knew there were tasks that people were counting on me to complete.”
Breaks for Rebounding Health
Turns out the strategy of the quick break is a lifesaver. Last week I told you about Pilar Gerasimo and her 5-Day Healthy Deviant Challenge. I did the challenge and the best thing I learned about was “ultradian rhythms” that we all have and experience in our days. It relates to the energy and our ability to focus and produce.
An ultradian rhythm is a recurrent period or cycle repeated throughout a 24-hour day, as defined by Wikipedia.
Ultradian rhythms are natural, undulating cycles of energy — oscillating patterns of energy production and recovery — that occur in people (as well as in other living things) many times throughout the day. Like circadian rhythms, but smaller.
The basics: After 90-120 minutes of sustained energy output and mental focus, the body and brain need a 15-20 minute break. Your systems use that down time for recovery, repair, replenishment and rebalancing. After which time, they return to a high level of productivity and efficiency for another 90 to 120 minutes.
Breaks during cancer treatments
I learned during both rounds of dealing with cancer treatments that the only way I could manage my energy was to take breaks. My last round of cancer was July and August 2010, yes, ten years ago!! That’s 10 years I’ve been cancer free!!!
Cancer-Free Happy Dance CELEBRATION!!!
I’ve been back working for many years now and one of the ways I’ve learned to maintain my focus and energy is, as I learned during cancer treatments, is to take a break every 1.5 to 2 hours. Until this past week I knew nothing about ultradian rhythms!!
No matter how busy and focused I need to be, I regularly take breaks. Turns out those breaks are likely saving my life. Pilar calls these ultradian rhythm breaks URBs. Great name!
During these challenging COVID-19 times, my URB’s have taken on a slightly new look. Here’s my list of break options. May you too be inspired!!
Things I do for URB breaks:
- Wall sits
- Sit in the closet where Sam sleeps and pet him for 5 minutes
- Do a FeetUp session (takes about 2 minutes and works like magic!)
- Do a Daily 7 Women Workout session, takes 7 minutes
- Walk around the block without my phone
- Do a 5 – 15 minute meditation. I use a few different apps. My current favorite is Insight Timer.
- Walk up and down the stairs in my house
- Plan my day for the next day (this is a very mindless, delightful task as I use different colored pens and I do little drawings in the margins)
- Go get a cup of tea
- Lay down on my bed and listen to relaxing music with my eyes closed
Pilar reminds us, “The main thing is to free your system from stress, to let your body relax or change positions, and to let your mind wander or be calm.”
Are you taking URBs for your health?? I hope so! Let me know in the comments below what you’re doing.
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