Vacations are wonderful, but they inevitably end with a return to everyday stress. How can you ensure that the burdens of life don’t burn you out? This is not a simple question to answer, but it is helpful to try and embrace three “R’s”:
Everyone Needs REST
The other day I was sitting on the beach watching a large bird overhead. I noticed that it flapped its wings and then glided for awhile. Flapped and glided. Flapped and glided. Neither of these activities alone could keep the bird going. It was the combination of the two that worked. So it is for us. If we work and work, but never glide, we will be exhausted. Hard work is terrific, but it can’t be constant or it will eventually end in a lack of motivation, sloppy work, or even depression.
Distraction ≠ REFRESHMENT
In today’s world of technological toys, it is very easy to escape the worries of the day. Turn on the TV, pull out the iPad, surf Facebook… the list goes on and on! These activities are distractions. They are passive, so we think of them as relaxation, but they really aren’t. They simply shift our focus from stressful thoughts to mundane ones. There is nothing wrong with these activities – we all need to zone out sometimes. However, distraction doesn’t have the power to refresh us. Have you ever walked away from an hour on the internet saying “Wow, I feel terrific”? True refreshment is typically a result of activities which require physical exertion, creativity, or human interaction (exercise, hobbies, hanging out…)
Ever have a day characterized by chaos? Days like these can feel out of control and draining. Instead of working intentionally, we find ourselves simply reacting, which is unproductive, discouraging, and tiring. Periodic days like these are unavoidable. Constant days like these may be a symptom of poor planning. To the extent you can, try and set up a rhythm to your week. It may be scheduling certain tasks for certain days (e.g. laundry on Mondays, grocery shopping on Fridays, playgroup on Wednesdays.) It may be blocking time in your calendar for repetitive activities (team meeting on Tuesdays at 1:00, paperwork on Thursdays, marketing on Friday afternoons). It should include intentional time off (e.g. see points above) so that you give yourself permission to be “off the clock.” By creating a predictable routine you will improve your ability to plan and to adapt when life’s complexities hit.
In a world that seems to demand more than we can give, everyone needs to be his/her own advocate. Set and pursue your priorities, guard your time, and take care of your body and spirit.
What do you find most refreshing and relaxing?