The power of syncing life with nature’s yearly cycles

Humans are naturally attuned to various biological rhythms, such as daily (circadian), weekly (circaseptan), monthly (circatrigintan), and yearly (circannual) cycles. These rhythms not only govern our sleep, eating habits, and energy levels but might also influence the design and functioning of systems we create, like technology and organizational processes.

For instance, it’s commonly advised to restart computer systems weekly to maintain optimal performance. This practice mirrors the circaseptan rhythm, suggesting that even our technological creations benefit from periodic refresh cycles. However, the yearly cycle, or circannual rhythm, seems to be particularly significant in both natural and human-made systems.

Annual reviews, such as for continuing education in professional skills and compliance training, often follow a yearly schedule. This timing aligns with our natural inclination towards annual cycles, making such intervals feel intuitive for maintaining and updating our competencies.

Similarly, health care practices like doctor visits and preventive screenings are often scheduled annually. This timing strikes a balance, avoiding the excessive frequency of biannual appointments and the potential risks of biennial intervals. Annual cycles also apply to administrative processes, like the renewal of work credentials and contracts, where yearly reaffirmations balance the need for consistency with the avoidance of undue burden.

A poignant example is the Life Certificate for Pensioners in India, required annually to confirm the pensioner’s status. This practice ensures the system’s integrity while aligning with a manageable, natural rhythm. Likewise, annual radiological screenings are predicated on the assumption that a year is an optimal period for managing the progression of asymptomatic diseases without allowing them to become unmanageable.

These examples illustrate a broader theme: Our lives and the systems we navigate are deeply intertwined with natural rhythms. The expectation that humans can work in places they are not employed, or be employed by entities that don’t own the workplace, reflects a complex interplay of systems and cycles. Insurance systems, payment structures, and regulatory frameworks further complicate this interplay, each operating on its own set of cycles and expectations.

As societal expectations evolve, the “normal” thresholds for achievement and existence are pushed higher, often making goals seem unreachable. The collective response, through unions or groups, to these challenges often hinges on the ability to understand and adapt to these underlying rhythms, most notably the circannual cycle.

Recognizing and aligning with these natural and systemic rhythms, especially the circannual, could enhance our ability to navigate and design human systems more effectively. By acknowledging these patterns and incorporating them into our planning and processes, we can create a more harmonious and manageable interface between human needs and the complex systems that shape our world.

Deepak Gupta is an anesthesiologist. Shushovan Chakrabortty is a pain physician.

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