To perform at our peak, we need to learn to oscillate.

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Hey there.

You know that feeling you get in the morning when you have to drag yourself out of bed, tiredness coursing through your body, standing in the hot shower visualising that first cup of coffee?

That one you get when your pushing through the crowds on the bus or train into work, head down in your phone mindlessly scrolling through picture perfect shots of someone you don’t even know standing on a Mexican beach looking like they have all the fun.  

Or how about that feeling when you get another email, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger notification pops up on your phone and it’s only 7am?

That overloaded, overwhelmed feeling that leaves you feeling like every day is an up-hill battle.

You got out of bed congratulating yourself on how resilient you are, pushing through yet another day. Only it’s not resilience, it’s blind tenacity, and it breaks us down.

In this world of expected sustained high performance we need to treat our bodies and our minds the same way a high performing athlete does.  We need to take a leaf out the athlete’s playbook. We need to learn to oscillate.

To oscillate is to cycle through periods of high stress and then have some form of rest and recovery. Not spend prolonged amount of time under stressful conditions thinking that’s normal.

Take the surfer for instance, the surfer will ride the big waves and then pull back, spend some time behind the break, being still, mindful and quiet, then leans into the next challenging wave that comes through with the same vigour and enthusiasm as the first wave of the day.

Like the athlete who oscillates between stress and repair, it is in the recovery that both our muscle and fortitude are built, and burnout is avoided.

In Jim Leohr and Tony Schwartz’s article ‘The Making of a Corporate Athlete’, they reference the relationship between energy and performance. Forming the base of their High-Performance Pyramid is physical wellbeing, emphasising the importance of looking after both the mind and body, and leaving us with the space to rest and repair.

It’s the simple things we neglect in favour of perfectionism; not letting others down and generally taking on too much.

To cope, we drink too much coffee or wine over water, we spend too much time escaping into social media instead of taking a walk, we find that there is no time to play a sport or cook a meal that will fuel our body but somehow seem to still have the time to binge an entire season of Game of Thrones in a week.

We make these choices under the guise of “chilling out” to get over or through the day instead of treating ourselves well; choosing food to nourish our bodies and exercise to clear our heads.

We need to prioritise self-care through practicing what we need at the physical level.

To oscillate requires mindful intent, not just to persist content with dragging our weary minds and bodies along for the ride throughout the day.

To oscillate 2 things are key:

  1. We need to create space; space to say no, to set boundaries, to understand what’s important in life beyond your day at work and to understand what your limits are.
  2. We need to create new rituals; habits that will allow us to stay strong physically, emotionally and mentally and to sustain performance under pressure.

The great thing about these rituals is that while they can be life-changing, they are also deceptively simple. They can be as easy as..

  • Committing to walking the dog three mornings a week instead of staying in bed for half an hour and getting straight onto your emails.
  • Purchasing a new water bottle to stay hydrated throughout the day, turning off all screens an hour before bed and switching out coffee for green tea.
  • Doing a social media “fast” for instance where you only allow yourself to be online from 12pm to 8pm, or skipping it at a particular time that you would normally find yourself scrolling. Using this time instead to take a walk outside in the park or meet a friend all helps us reset.

In order to make the above stick, you will need to set your boundaries, communicate these clearly and say no when you need to.  

Creating these rituals in your physical capacity, the base of the high-performance pyramid, has a flow on effect to your emotional state and mental clarity, ultimately leading to more fulfilment, better relationships and more joy in your day, and who doesn’t want that?

 
Kelly Segat
Head of Programs and Client Experience 
 
 

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If you’d like to learn more techniques to cultivate peak performance and lead successfully under high levels of pressure, uncertainty and change, our Level Up program is for you.

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