Stay in tune with your natural cycle

Wherever you look in nature there are automatic mechanisms that work to maintain a state of natural balance, such as the nitrogen cycle of the planet, the cycle of the seasons, the balance of ecospheres.

Our own bodies have these mechanisms as well, governing a myriad of attributes from sodium and potassium balance, to hormonal equilibrium to the homeostatic systems that maintain our body temperature. 

It is a prime directive of our instinct to maintain us in an optimum state of balance. Unlike the rest of nature, however, we as humans have a conscious mind that can override our instinctual programming – an obvious example being our ability to forcibly stay awake – at least to a point!

In the same way as humankind is placing a stress on the planet’s ability to maintain a balance appropriate to sustain our way of life, we are able to place a stress on our own systems and their ability to maintain an optimum balance.

The most important issue in work-life balance then goes beyond the question of balancing work and personal time. More significant is the question of whether our lifestyle places excessive demands on our systems that may eventually lead to an imbalance that in turn leads to ill health, physically or psychologically.

The issue can be compounded by the fact that busy people, with over active minds and multiple pressures, are more likely to ignore the subtle and sometimes obvious signals that their “systems” try to give them. Feelings of being overtired, lack of motivation, anxiety, even mild to moderate depression, are all messages that should be listened to. Yet they can be easily ignored with the idea of “soldiering on”.

All this is leading to the point that to maintain an optimum life balance it is imperative to know yourself, to learn to listen and respond to your instinct, and to be aware in a more conscious way of your state of balance.

A simple practice that can aid this is to spend five minutes in the day, preferably in the morning before the day’s activity, to try to consciously register your state of balance. In this period use these prompter questions for reflection.

  1. What’s your physical state – what mark would you give out of 10 for your physical condition?
  1. What’s your mental state – bright and alert? Dull and slow? Give yourself a mark out of 10 as to how prime you are mentally.
  1. What’s your emotional state – calm and ready? Anxious? Despondent? Irritable? Motivated? Give yourself a mark out of 10 for emotional steadiness and resilience.
  1. An open question - What are you in need of? Bear in mind there could be multiple answers at different levels. A hearty breakfast, exercise, confirmation and recognition, some serious downtime, fresh inspiration, understanding.
Where you can (and it won’t always be possible) try to schedule your time to match how you are that day. If you have a conflict to resolve, you don’t want to go into it if you’re not feeling emotionally resilient. If there are key decisions to make it’s better to be calm and mentally alert.

Where you discover a need, fulfil it as soon can. If you have to postpone it, at least try to make a bargain with yourself about when it will be fulfilled.

These questions are meant simply as starters. I personally believe that being more in tune with yourself, with a more conscious ongoing self-awareness, is absolutely fundamental to leading a more balanced and fulfilled life inside and outside work, and in being better able to handle a challenging and demanding lifestyle.

To contact Nick Woodeson, please email him at