Finding Renewed Rhythms in 2021 Author: Sue Melaragno, M.Ed., LPC

For many of us, 2020 couldn’t have ended soon enough! There is something inviting about turning the page to a new year. For me, it’s another opportunity to pause and reset. Year after year around this time, I find myself asking those same questions: What’s working? What’s not working? Where do I need to change so that I can live a life more connected to the things I value most? Where am I stuck and what can I do differently? I GET TO start over in a sense and that feels exciting, liberating, and hopeful.

In the book, Rhythms of Renewal, Rebekah Lyons outlines four specific ways to “trade stress and anxiety for a life of peace and purpose.” These rhythms include: REST, RESTORE, CONNECT, and CREATE.

According to Lyons, “we are in the throes of a collective panic attack. We pursue anxiety- inducing careers, security, and keeping up We’re afraid we’re not doing enough. We worry about health, politics, or other things we can’t control. That’s when discouragement sets in. Mental and emotional fatigue takes over. Fear and anxiety overcome. Finally, despair prevails.” Can anyone relate to this? These words resonated with me. I have a hunch I’m not alone and maybe they resonate with you too.

So, what can we DO? We can become more intentional and take back our lives, even if in the smallest ways. Rest and Restore are what Lyons calls “input rhythms.” These rhythms fill us up and build our capacity to handle what life brings our way. Connect and Create are the “output rhythms” — once filled up, we can engage more effectively in the world.

Let’s take a look at each of these four rhythms. When I first became familiar with each one, I asked myself where I have “opportunities" to be more intentional (another way of saying, where could I make some changes?). I invite you to do the same!

Lyons describes the Rest Rhythm as a time to deliberately slow down. As she reminds us, we weren’t created for this nonstop pace and without regular rest, we may experience frequent burnout. This rhythm includes:

• Having a solid routine for deep sleep (so important for mental health)

• Taking a break from work

• Cultivating a morning routine — maybe one that includes time for personal reflection,

journaling, prayer, meditation, reading

• “Detoxing” from technology (yes, our brains definitely need this more than we know).

• Allowing ourselves to be quiet, listen, and dig deep

As you can tell, resting isn’t completely passive, but it will likely rejuvenate us, and who doesn’t need that?

The Restore Rhythm is one of my favorites, probably because we are all in desperate need of replenishing. Synonyms for restore include restart, refresh, repair, and rejuvenate. Here we

focus on bringing ourselves back to a “state of health, soundness, or vigor.” Picture a wilted plant being watered and given sunlight as it re-erects to a vital form. This rhythm highlights several concrete strategies including:

• Walking outside to reduce brain fog (just 10 minutes a day can do wonders...try it!)

• Eating smart (there’s a definite correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function and mood disorders)

• Breaking a sweat (exercise stimulates those “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain

naturally. We all could use an extra dose of serotonin and dopamine.)

• Giving yourself permission to play (as adults, we forget to do this...what did you like to do when you were 8 years old?)

The third rhythm is Connect. As mentioned, the first two rhythms, rest and restore, fill us up. This next rhythm is focused on looking outside of ourselves and engaging with a full heart. As Lyons describes, “we were created for connection. And when we are closely knit within our community, we are at our best, flourishing and full of life.” We can move from isolation to healing. The Connect Rhythm includes:

• Becoming the friend you wish to have — reaching out, being intentional, showing up

• Being vulnerable (when we’re in authentic connection, we are healthier, more confident, more known)

• Remembering the power of physical touch (this promotes the release of oxytocin — a

bonding agent that lowers stress and anxiety)

• Apologizing first (research points to the health benefits of forgiveness — lowered blood pressure, stress and anxiety)

Finally, the fourth rhythm is Create. You might be thinking right now, but I’m not creative!” This rhythm isn’t necessarily about being artistic, crafty or musical (although it might include that). This is more about using your specific talents to live a more meaningful, purpose-filled life...one that has the potential to positively impact others around you. Let’s look at some examples:

• Finding renewed meaning and purpose in your life (Who am I meant to be? What am I meant to do?)

• Creating something with your hands (sew, cook, paint, knit, garden, build, etc.)

• Learning something new (pick up a new hobby, try a new activity, take a class)

• Taking responsibility for something or someone (increases confidence).

New habits take some time to develop, but once they take hold, watch what happens! Watch your energy increase, your mood elevate, your anxiety wash away, and your life become more fulfilling and meaningful. Start small, but start. Together let’s move into a time of renewal.

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