No Time To Relax? Consider This…
by Jacquie Wise
If the thought of relaxation sends you lurching from resentment to guilt, it’s time to shift your focus. Instead of thinking of relaxing as an activity that interrupts your work, think of it as an investment in resources that will enhance your work.
Roger had finally decided to take a precious week off work— the first opportunity he’d had to escape in over a year. He and his wife were looking forward to the trip to Byron Bay—sun, sand, away from it all…What a great opportunity—to take the laptop and work on that book he was writing—to take the texts and journals he’d never had a chance to read…
Yet Roger had come to me seeking solutions for poor concentration, lack of energy and overwhelming chaos in his paperwork.
Once he understood the impact total relaxation would have on his mental energy, Roger realised the importance of taking nothing related to his work on his holiday. It took a while, but finally, he remembered the things he’d once enjoyed. He agreed to take with him only a fishing rod, snorkeling gear…and reading material? Certainly! But it could only be his favourite ‘rubbish’—science fiction. He left my office in a better state of mind than the teeth-clinching anxiety with which he’d arrived. Solutions were being put in place. As he left my office, his step was lighter, now that he had something to look forward to.
When demands upon you exceed your resources to
deal with them, you’re heading for burnout.
The first thing that slips is your ability to concentrate. It takes you twice as long to focus, to retain information, to harness your thoughts. The slow-down creeps up on you so slowly, you are barely aware of the subtle changes in your abilities.
Work piles up and you have no alternative than to take work home, spending valuable leisure hours to complete it. The hours you spend propped up in bed surrounded by paperwork means you have difficulty switching off your mind. Now, you can’t get to sleep. The clutter in your office seems to grow in proportion to your feelings of being out of control.
A common rationale is ‘I thrive on stress. It doesn’t affect me or my family.’ (A very different picture emerges when you ask the family! How many times does your partner say to the children ‘Don’t annoy mum/dad because s/he has to concentrate…’)
As stress takes hold, you feel tired, lethargic, and you are more susceptible to minor ailments such as colds or stomach upsets. At the more serious end of the scale, you are cooking up a terrific ulcer!
Increasing your mental and physical agility is achieved by exercise, diet
and especially by learning to relax.
Let’s take exercise: Who has time for exercise? The trick is to combine it with another goal, such as quality time with your family. What about a leisurely evening bike-ride with the family after dinner, or an energetic game of basket-ball on a weekend? Or what about going for a long walk equipped with a small tape recorder, which allows you to capture those important thoughts as you walk? And it doesn’t take that much extra time to walk up a couple of flights of stairs into your office instead of taking the lift.
Diet: The ‘bad for you’ foods are always the most enjoyable! Nobody’s saying cut them out completely—extreme measures never last. Yet, it’s a known fact that alcohol, processed foods, white flours, sugars, all diminish your energy levels and the mental agility so crucial to your work. Because they are addictive, it’s not hard to reduce any cravings you might have for chocolate, alcohol, pastries…whatever…if you simply reduce quantity and frequency. And balance your intake with more ‘brain-foods’ such as fish.
Let’s face it, without your health, you have nothing. Don’t wait until cancer becomes the motivation to change your eating habits. It’s one thing to be vaguely aware of the principles of good eating and it’s another to integrate them into your lifestyle. Find out what it takes and you’ll discover how simple it can be.
Relaxation: Yeah, yeah—but how do you unclench your teeth?
Perhaps, like Roger, you’ve forgotten how to relax—you don’t know what you enjoy any more. Your mind just keeps dragging you back to your work. And if you do manage to set aside time for fun, you are consumed with guilt, so you can’t enjoy even the briefest moment.
The following ideas will be a starting point to learning how to unwind quickly.
Begin by snatching a few minutes at a time periodically, throughout the day, to pause and slow down. Take a complete break when you can—a brisk walk in fresh air, for instance. You’ll return to your work refreshed and alert. If you feel a knot of tension building in your stomach, take a few moments to breathe as deeply as you can and feel it unwind.
A great way to switch off your mind (and to fall asleep) is to day-dream. Allow yourself to visualise whatever fantasy appeals to you. One client of mine who couldn’t switch his mind off at night re-discovered a long-lost dream by allowing his mind to wander. His fantasy was to own a vineyard. He visualised every detail—until it turned into a business plan. In the meantime, it cured his insomnia!
You could try parcelling your time. Allocate all your weekdays to work—including evenings if necessary—and dedicate all weekend to family or friends. If your weekdays are shot, at least you can look forward to quality time with your family on weekends. Quality time means giving your full attention to the moment.
When demands upon you exceed your resources to deal with them, it is not always easy to diminish the demands. Doesn’t it make sense, then, to invest a little time and energy in simple, but effective methods to increase your resources?
Perhaps the quieter weeks over Christmas and the transition into the New Year will be your chance for a review of your working methods and an opportunity to invest in relaxation.
I’d love to know what you think of what I’ve said here.
You can give me your feedback, ask a question by email or post a comment below.
If you or someone you know would like a personal consultation, please call +61 3 9690 8159.
Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.
Reproducing and Sharing
Jacquie Wise has many articles available for reprinting in your newsletter, website, social media or to pass on to your friends (including this post) that she would be happy for you to share.
You can share a direct hyperlink to this post’s URL at anytime.
If you would like to reproduce any articles, Jacquie relies on your integrity to quote the content in its entirety and include the following acknowledgment at the end:
Alternatively, if you would like a tailor-made article, please contact Jacquie directly.
Make an enquiry now… or call us on +61 3 9690 8159