By Kathleen E.R. Murphy
It never ceases to amaze when people boast that they never take breaks or vacations and work all the time. What further astounds is that they think that is a badge of honor.
They are actually fooling themselves into thinking they are always highly productive. It is impossible to be at peak performance all of the time, especially when you do not take any breaks.
The United States has earned a reputation for living to work versus other countries who embrace the concept of working to live. Granted, there are factors that make it more challenging to adopt the working to live frame of mind, but we can still increase the quality of our lives by taking more breaks, whether they are mental or physical, or both.
Why do so many Americans pride themselves by acting like robots and not taking the down time they need or have earned.
People in other countries have figured out the balance and need to infuse down time into their schedule.
One challenge in the United States, is employees typically have only a few weeks of vacation time each year, three if we are lucky, and four if we are even more fortunate.
Studies show that even when people have earned or accumulated that much vacation time, most of them do not either use it, or are concerned about actually taking a break. This is such a shame, as both physical health and mental wellbeing are compromised by this belief.
So, how do we learn to embrace down time? Below are a few suggestions on how to feel more comfortable taking time off, or working some down time into each and every day.
- Every few hours, get up and walk around. Yes, literally walk around your office, or go outside to get some fresh air. Changing your environment even for a short period of time can help you to recharge, particularly when the sun is out and you get to experience it in person and not by viewing it from the inside out.
- Take a coffee or lunch break. At first, you might be tempted to incorporate some of your work into this time, but slowly ease yourself out of doing this habit (or practice).
- If you are near a retail store, take a trip simply to look around and take a visual vacation from what you are thinking about or looking at most of the day. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how refreshed you’ll feel when you get back to the task at hand. And who knows who you’ll meet!
- Plan a staycation or an actual vacation. Having something to look forward to is a great way to be more inspired about your work. After you take the actual break, you will feel like a new person again. Sometimes just three days of either doing something other than work, or fully relaxing can put you in a much better frame of mind. Be amazed at the increased productivity when you return, refreshed and rarin’ to go again.
- Consider either picking up a new hobby, or a hobby or potentially using your down time to volunteer your time and skills. A fun activity and helping others offer tremendous benefits in helping your mind and body to refuel.
- Learning how to meditate is also something you can do both at work and at home. Many highly-successful business people and celebrities have turned to meditation to enhance overall well-being, and to recalibrate to achieve more and become more productive. Meditate for as little as five minutes and feel the positive results. Everyone has at least five minutes per day to spare, so give this a try. In fact, schedule it right into your calendar.
Everyone has a choice of how to use their time. It is a matter of making time to recharge a priority. You are worth it.
Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.