3 Tips for Resting and Relaxing Your Way to Success
Technology is both a wonderful and terrible thing. It’s given us the ability to work from anywhere and at any time, which is a boon for the night owls and early birds. We’re no longer tied to the standard expectation of being planted in front of a computer from 9-5.
Even so, technology has its ill effects. We may have the freedom to work whenever and wherever we want, but we can become tethered to that work. We might feel compelled to check our email or to work on a few projects before heading to bed at night or entering the workplace in the morning.
The end result of that compulsion often is less sleep and relaxation. A National Institutes of Health study has found that employees are sleeping less than six hours a night on average, a primary factor in clinical burnout. Six hours might be enough sleep for some, but it isn’t for others.
Tip: Wondering how well you sleep at night? Assess and analyze your sleep patterns with a Fitbit or other monitoring hardware.
The Band-Aid solution
Most of us note the lack of sleep at least subconsciously. We know we’re out-of-sorts but not the exact reason why. Our patience seems stretched thinner and thinner. We feel ourselves become veritable zombies by mid-afternoon.
We attempt the usual remedies: coffee, sugar, bright light, music with a tempo. They help for a few minutes, but we inevitably sink back into irritability and blank stares. Our productivity levels decline or stagnate. We feel an increasing sense of dissatisfaction with our work and output.
Some of us ignore the warning signs and throw ourselves into our work even more. We choose not to take vacation time. When we do take it, we still check emails, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if we’re only trying to prevent being overwhelmed upon returning to work. Too many times, though, checking one email leads to checking another and another until we’ve spent an entire day on the computer rather than resting and relaxing.
Others of us respond by cutting all digital ties for a certain time period. We call it “going off the grid” or something similar. It’s a proven method, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. We’re merely applying a Band-Aid to the symptom rather than treating the cause.
Tip: Digital-free retreats, when combined with other rest and relaxation techniques, are good. If you’re interested in taking one, consider these digital detox vacation packages.
Advice from the top
Some people are a bit more practical. Catherine Hoke, CEO of Defy Ventures, takes “monk days,” two non-weekend days per month when she works on her own projects and answers no emails, takes no work-related calls, and schedules no appointments. Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, integrates “renewal time” into his business. The office space features a lounge where employees can nap, meditate and simply relax.
Arianna Huffington, too, emphasizes the importance of rest and relaxation, including at her keynote speech at Demand Success in 2013. Her new book Thrive offers insights into creating a life of wellbeing, wisdom and wonder. Part of that wellbeing is understanding that raccoon eyes and a broken cheekbone are not testaments to success.
Success is found in being rested physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and it is a quality to be sought on a daily basis. Arianna makes rest and relaxation a habit by retiring earlier to bed, cutting out time spent in front of the TV and leaving mobile devices outside the bedroom. She says:
As more and more people are coming to realize, there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success – money and power – has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, and an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers.
Tip: Start cultivating rest by taking a single step. Could you go to bed a half hour earlier? Move your smartphone out of your bedroom? Leave your desk at lunchtime?
What jocks can teach us
Perhaps the most arguable evidence for rest and relaxation comes not from sleep studies, psychologists and entrepreneurs but from athletes. They understand that “the greater the performance demand, the greater the need for renewal.” It’s why athletes have rest days. They can’t practice all day every day. They have to give their bodies time to recuperate. If they don’t, they face not only the likelihood of performing less well during a workout or game but also of injuring themselves.
The lesson is applicable to the workplace. We may not be too worried about breaking an ankle or straining a knee, but, to be more productive and successful at work, we have to rest and relax.
What are your tips for avoiding burnout? We’d love to hear them!
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