In my last post, I gave you a few quick tools for making this your best week ever. Hopefully you got to use them, and found yourself winning. The inspiration for the post was a conversation I had with a friend who, in many ways, was waiting for “someday” to come before allowing herself to be happy.
I hear this a lot in my stress resilience training classes and workshops, and it’s mostly directed at taking down time. I often hear things life, “I’ll relax when I’m on vacation,” along with, “When I’m retired, then I’ll kick my feet up.” But it never happens. We can’t seem to get out of work mode and relax.
A recent study speaks to this. In the study, 1,000 workers from a wide variety of industries were asked the question, “Is vacation the cure for work-stress blues?” The findings are surprising (or not, if the stats speak of you).
Of the respondents, 58% reported no relief from stress as a result of vacation. More than half! But that’s not all. 27% reported more stress as a result of vacation. More stress from a vacation?! What do the results of this study say about our underlying mindset?
We can’t shut it off.
In our time of always-on connectivity, every moment can potentially be one spent working. More often then we’d like to admit, that’s what we’re doing. Working. A lot.
So much so that it can feel like every day is a work day.
How many of you have so many items on your “to-do” list that it will surely take longer than your one or two days off to get it done? Guilty!
There’s nothing wrong with bringing your super-achiever work ethic to your home duties or anywhere else in your life. It’s good to get stuff done.
There’s nothing wrong with it, that is, unless you’re wanting to shut it off, but can’t. You might be ready for a bit of a work slowdown if more than two of the following are true for you:
- You can’t sit still for more than five minutes.
- You have a hard time concentrating or focusing on the task in front of you.
- Your mind runs constantly.
- You can’t sleep, even though you’re exhausted.
- You don’t see the point in slowing down anyway, there’s so much to do.
- You have a short temper.
If this sounds like you, it’s time for more fun! While it might take a little practice to pave inroads into years of habitually running around, it can be done!
First, give yourself permission to relax. Linger in the spaces of your day today instead of rushing onto the next task. If today is your Friday, begin the decompression from a hard-won week by letting off the gas a little. Take a few breaths. Get out of the building on your next break. Leave work early.
Next, schedule some time for you. Take out that to-do list, and block out some time to do what you want this weekend. What would be fun? What would bring out your inner child, and let him/her frolic! Remember recess? Yeah, like that kind of fun. I like getting out in nature for a few hours — or for just a few minutes, if you’re in a pinch.
Separate your work time and your play time. One of my mentors always said, “Work hard, rest well.” If you must do some work amidst your play, draw a line. Make a clear distinction between the two. If you’re strolling through the park with your kids, be there. The work emails on the phone can wait.
Then, take it slowly. In Thich Nhat Hanh’s zen classic, “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” he speaks of setting aside one whole day where you do everything three times more slowly than usual. He recommends hanging a reminder near your clock so it’s the first thing you see. Walk to the shower more slowly, mindful of each step, the feeling of your body, your breath. Eat slowly, chewing every bite, tasting and savoring your food. Let this theme continue all day long.
Finally, let your heart shine. Smile for no reason. Smile at the next person whose eyes you meet. Laugh! Let your guard down, drop your agenda, and find yourself here. Now. There’s joy waiting, if you allow for it. Positivity is the antidote to stress, joy a soothing elixir.
If your week is all work and no play, carve out some time for you, today. Your inner child will thank you.
How are you slowing down today in preparation for a lazy weekend? Please share your comments below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Adam Timm is the author of the #1 bestselling book, Stress Is Optional! How to Kick the Habit, and the cofounder of The Healthy Dispatcher, a law enforcement training company that offers stress resilience, communication and leadership classes designed for Emergency Dispatchers. His second book, Dispatcher Stress: 50 Lessons on Beating the Burnout, is due out this summer.