You’ve probably been too busy to notice that we live in a go go world. 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play and 8 hours of sleep (if you’re lucky). Rinse and repeat for 5 days, then you can have 2 days off. But, if you’re anything like everyone else in the western world, the weekend can be more hectic than the weekdays.
We recently discussed ‘How to be successful and avoid burning out’. The last step was ‘take a break’. Today, we explore that step in more detail.
It’s goes without saying that too much of this go go go lifestyle will lead you to burning out way before your expiry date.
An important part of life, is rest. Not in the form of sleeping, but being awake and switching your brain off. There are some days where your productivity goes out the window. It’s not good for getting stuff done, but it’s good for the soul.
When was the last time you stopped? Actually just stopped to live and exist in the moment. Some people do this in the form of meditation, others doing it in the form of binge watching a tv series.
Making time for yourself to do nothing is important to your creativity and productivity. When you stop to rest, you let your body recharge in a different way than sleep.
Sleep produces all the good things the body needs to heal, rest and prepare for the next day, however consciously resting and dedicating time to yourself is important to your body and even moreso to the brain. When you give your body a few minutes every day to rest and recover, you’re encouraging your body to heal and learn from itself.
Simply putting your feet up and closing your eyes for 5 minutes let’s your muscles and organs relax. It can also reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase alertness, mental clarity, creativity, and motivation. All of these changes can enhance your productivity.
My girlfriend lives a life that is the polar opposite from me. She works over 50 hours a week and has commitments nearly every night of the week. The one day she has free, Sunday, half of it is spent with social commitments or working from home. The other half of this day though, I often force her to rest.
Sometimes, this is as simple as binge watching some Furious Pete videos on youtube or guilting her into helping me with my Polish language study. We refer to this as ‘de-braining’. It’s a few hours of the week where she and I both just stop thinking, stop focussing and concentrating, and we are mindless. It is quite possibly the only thing that enables us to live the insane lives we lead.
If you’re not a Furious Pete fan or not learning a foreign language, taking time out and intentionally being unproductive is an important part to being more productive.
I’ve been an on and off meditator for a good 3 years. When I stop, sit and focus on my breathing for as little as 5 minutes, I realize how insane my head is – and I’d call my life as far from stressful as it can be.
A little about meditation. It isn’t about sitting there trying to levitate rocks with your mind, it is simply about stopping. As mentioned, my life is quite stress-free, yet when I meditate, I still find myself dwelling on things like ‘I need to buy more tea, will my shoes handle another winter, I wonder if my dog is thinking about me’. Meditation is simply about stopping and not thinking these thoughts.
It has such a proven track-record of increasing brain function that some schools are now adopting meditation instead of detention.
I have learnt a lot about my body and my brain simply from stopping and thinking about nothing. I feel rested after meditation and this has led me to being more creative, productive and solving problems in different ways.
Perhaps meditation, inward reflection and trans-dimensional existence is a little too ‘new age’ and hippy for you. Cool, I get that and in fact, that was me when I first heard that a mate had starting doing it. But if this is you, try this:
Sit on your bed with your feet on the floor and a straight back. Hands on your knees and breathe in through your nose for 3 heart beats and out of your nose for another 3. Repeat this for a minute, yes, a whole minute, while concentrating on how the air at the tip of your nose feels.
If this still feels a little weird for you, go to the closest window and stare at something off in the distance. Listen to the noise around it, look at the colours and the shapes you see. This is called zoning out. You did it a lot at school when being taught algebra and it’s a skill that you need to do more of.
Meditation, binge watching a TV series or zoning out is an important part of keeping your brain as healthy as your body.
Do it more often and don’t feel bad for doing so.
I’m off to align my chakras.