The leaves are beautiful in New England at the moment, marking the passage of summer. The vibrant hues of fall always make me keenly aware of time. Time is our primary guiding force, always moving forward. We remember the past, plan for the future, and gauge time to plot out the progression of our goals.
With time inevitably comes change. And I’ve had a lot of changes lately. Instead of bemoaning the necessity of change, I’m excited to embark on a research expedition into additional exercise methodologies. The strenuous dance routine I’ve loved for several years isn’t out the window, but I know my ankles aren’t ready for jumping just yet. And everything is on the table! Pilates, why not? Spinning, sounds good! Swimming, maybe. Cross-training, yes, please! Rock climbing, a possibility!
I love running, and I ran long distance for many years. But at a point, I determined that daily long-distance running was no longer the right fit for me. So I switched to dancing. I’m at the cusp of another big shift. Like all of us, I am in a constant state of evolution. Just because I’ve always exercised a certain way doesn’t mean I shouldn’t change it up. And this doesn’t just go for exercise.
Take Daylight Savings Time as an excellent example of something that we do because we’ve always done it, but the reasons it began are increasingly irrelevant. We recently re-entered Standard Time, wherein it feels like the sun sets soon after lunch. The dreaded changing of the clocks in spring and fall only began around 100 years ago. But this inconvenient idea originated in 1784 from the mind of one of our most beloved historical figures, Benjamin Franklin. (I guess not every idea can be a good one.) The premise was to align the clocks to daylight hours and thus save on energy costs, which at the time were either candles, oil, or coal. I like candles, but I do not rely on them primarily for my evening illumination needs.
And I’m not alone in my feelings about this antiquated spring and fall ritual. A 2020 poll of Americans found that only 28% like switching the clocks back and forth. (Who are these people?) Now, where it’s interesting is the other 72% anti-DST crowd. Forty percent vote for Standard Time year-round, and 31% like the hour shift and would make Daylight Savings a year-round norm.
Not only does the time change wreak havoc on both our internal clocks and international flight schedules, but it’s downright dangerous. The fall switch back to Standard is the ‘easy’ time change and far less hazardous than the spring forward to Daylight Savings. The springtime change leads to greater workplace injuries, more car accidents in the week following, and a significant increase in heart-related illnesses, hospitalizations, and even death. A 2014 study estimated that the increased risk of a heart attack on the Monday following a shift to Daylight Savings Time is 24% greater than the Monday before or after. These negative outcomes are all linked to an average loss of 40 minutes of sleep the Sunday night of the time change. Leading me to ask, how is this worth it?
It’s a crazy argument when you think about it. “Let’s decide to change time.” Meanwhile, Hawaii and most of Arizona are having none of it and make themselves content with Standard Time year-round. There is a rising tide of anti-time change sentiment with some form of legislation or resolutions to banish it altogether or conversely use Daylight Savings year-round in Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Louisiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Tennessee, Washington, Florida, and California.
No matter your stance on Daylight Savings Time, I encourage you to ponder if you have any old routines that no longer make sense. Most of us have some DST-level thoughts or behaviors that, while they may have served us in the past, we’ve outgrown yet still engage in. Consider if you are doing anything just because you always have. If so, does that old pattern still work for you?
Perhaps you have habits you’ve evolved past. Maybe you have a relationship that seems like it has you stuck in a previous version of yourself. For example, many people find themselves falling into old roles and behaviors around their families. Can you evolve those relationships simply by being this current, more evolved version of yourself? Maybe you need to embark on a different path of study and let your curiosity run beyond the bounds of your current expertise. For some, like me, it may be time to shake up a well-worn and trusted exercise routine. Maybe your role models of what a successful adult looks like include seriousness, discipline, and hard work. Not bad qualities at all. But perhaps you can evolve by adding spontaneity and fun to your days.
Look hard, and I bet you’ll find your own Daylight Savings Time operating in the background of your life that is more trouble than it’s worth. Don’t get stuck in old ways if they no longer serve you. Catch any thought that sounds like, “Well, it’s always been this way….” We’re all a little like the 72% of Americans who disdain DST but continue to be locked into its cycle. Just because it’s always been one way doesn’t mean you can’t make another way.
PS. Exercise and supplemental vitamin D are especially good ideas for combatting any time change struggles you may be feeling.