Although people who are driven to achieve are generally applauded for their efforts, they are often missing out on something extremely necessary – the need to rest. By ignoring signals that you’re tired, you put yourself in a position to lose vital ground in the race for optimal health and spiritual growth.
Exhaustion will eventually show up in your work and your personal life, jeopardizing all you’ve worked for. There’s a reason your HR department insists you take a lunch break – at least most of the time: by going for a walk, breathing in fresh air and getting a different view, you can return to the office energized, and better able to tackle your work. You are therefore more effective at your job – which benefits you, your boss and your company.
You’re also more likely to be happier – studies have shown that even small breaks, wherein you go out and “smell the roses,” sometimes literally, help support a good mental outlook.
1. Energy junkie
Your body will thank you for putting yourself in motion. Physical activity – even if it’s just for 15 minutes – is necessary. It keeps your legs from cramping after hours sitting at a desk, and it allows you to stretch and keep your spine flexible. That crucial break also gives your eyes some relief from staring at a computer screen all day long.
Just as your iPod or cell phone needs to have its batteries charged, your body also needs a surge of energy now and then. Because energy often begets energy, this is a good reason to keep yourself in motion. Go to the gym, hop on a bike, or just lace up your running shoes and head for the nearest path. Do whatever it takes not to be completely sedentary!
2. Sleepy time
Never underestimate the importance of sleep. We need an average of eight hours of sleep to be fully rested, but most of us skate by on less. And whoever invented the siesta, or the midday nap, was definitely on to something – you may not have a huge block of time to sleep in the middle of the day, but you may borrow the idea and take a “power nap,” or catnap. Just 20 minutes of rest (lock your office door, hold all calls and set your timer) will recharge you, and find you delving into your afternoon work with greater clarity – without those dark circles under your eyes!
3. Go far far away
Recharging your soul can occur when you simply lie in a hammock, or read a juicy paperback book. And that vacation you think you don’t deserve? You need it! “I never used to go on vacation,” confides Marissa, a high-powered New York realtor. “I was afraid to lose potential sales, and I wanted to keep my client satisfaction high. But when we got hit by the recent economic downturn, sales became slow across the board. I realized that if I went away for a week, it probably wouldn’t make any difference to my business. So I went to Costa Rica and lazed around on the beach. It took three days for me to stop feeling guilty about not working – but after that, I began to embrace the joy of being away from phones and emails and nagging clients… I just rested. It was the best gift I could give myself.”
Once home, Marissa returned to her work with renewed vigor. “I actually had some great ideas just come to me while I was lying on the sand, sipping a mojito!” she exclaims. “I experienced some brainstorms about cross-promotion, and improving my sales.” She jokes that she should write the whole vacation off as a business expense because of the way it ultimately improved her sales.
4. Time out!
What Marissa learned was that a candle burned at both ends ultimately burns out. Those “type-A” overachievers who haven’t learned this are due for a rude awakening when they wind up suffering stress, hypertension, or worse… from simply driving their bodies, minds and souls too hard.
Inject more energy into your life by tapping into whatever it is that makes you happiest. If you like the arts you might attend a concert or play, or go to a museum. You’ll likely emerge feeling buoyed by your inspiration. If you like sports, go to a baseball game or soccer match – and allow the shared energy of the crowd wash over you for a much-needed rush.
It’s important to remember that all you need to do is look around you for sources of renewed energy. Coffee and sugar highs are fleeting – and they trap you into relying on chemical solutions to problems that are more easily solved. Simply tap into the many natural options that are available, and energize your body – and your soul.
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