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3 Ways to get your rhythm back when life gets stressful

I’ve been on vacation in the mountains of Northern California for the past week, following the busiest three months of my life. There’s nothing like a vacation to help you remember how important (and how challenging) it can be to follow your own rhythm. In addition to running a very busy executive coaching practice in May, I published my first book and embarked on a book tour that required traveling to 11 cities in 10 weeks with three trips across the country. I didn’t realize just how exhausted I was until I finally put my feet up on the deck of our cabin.

When we live busy lives fraught with multiple demands that come from working, our roles as wives and mothers, taking care of aging parents, civic and community obligations and maintaining friendships (not to mention keeping up with multiple social networks!) life can feel harried and overwhelming. It can make us feel like jugglers spinning plates that are out of control. It is times like these that make it easy to lose the sense of rhythm in our lives. Here are three simple things to do that will help you maintain it.

1. Decide what’s out of balance

What I’ve noticed this week is how much better I feel when I honor the rhythm that my body, mind and spirit need in order for me to thrive. This week has been a time to catch up on sleep that I’ve allowed a busy travel schedule to deprive me of, to eat healthy meals prepared with love and appreciation, to be still and soak in the beauty all around me; to catch up on reading books that enrich my heart and spirit; and to swim, walk and play every day so my body feels stronger. I’ve had to ask myself, “What’s out of balance?” then do my best to change it.

2. Become what you practice

As we prepare to go home tomorrow, I’ve been reflecting on the question, “How can I be mindful of what I’ve learned this week in ways that enable me to honor my natural rhythm when I go back to work?” One of my favorite sayings is, “We become what we practice” and in my personal experience and in coaching women leaders for many years, I know how true that statement is. The actions we take with regularity become our habits. And our habits form our character and sense of well-being.

3. Determine your non-negotiables

When I was crazy busy on my book tour, I made sure that I kept up with what I call in my book my anchor practices. No matter how busy I was, I made certain that I meditated every day and ate nourishing food. Because I love to swim, I swam whenever possible. These anchor practices helped me stay strong and centered, so I didn’t completely lose my rhythm — despite the fact that I was sleeping in a new city for nearly six weeks out of ten. I am leaving this vacation with a commitment to another anchor practice: to take at least five minutes each day to walk or sit in nature and be mindful of the beauty around me.

The playwright Lillian Hellman said, “Things start out as hope and end up as practice.”

As you think about listening to and heeding your own rhythm, what is one anchor practice that would help you thrive, despite your busy schedule?

What is one hope for yourself that you are willing to commit to practicing daily, no matter what?

Are you willing to make the leap from hope to practice today?

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