It’s summer and it’s the holiday season and many of us are about to take some well-earned time out from the office or wherever we work. In this “end of term-time”, the need for some respite from the daily grind is paramount in a lot of people’s minds right now.
The fact is, more and more people are finding it’s a battle to cope with overwhelming demands on their time in the workplace whilst still keeping pace with the never-ending amount of things that have to be done in their personal lives as well.
Research has shown that most of us these days have a dire need for “strategic renewal” (aka breaks and holidays). Human beings aren’t computers and are not equipped to work for long hours at high speeds and with scant breaks for recovery. Tony Schwarz, founder of a US-based organisation whose mission it is to work with businesses to create healthier and happier workplaces says: “The importance of restoration is rooted in our psychology. Human Beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse rhythmically between spending and recovering energy”.
It’s become standard practice these days for many people to work longer hours (often including weekends), and to be enslaved to their digital devices. The result is that they push themselves to the limit, lose the ability to prioritise, don’t have enough time off in lieu, and end up with little or no time to reflect and renew themselves. Inevitably, we have a working population which, on the whole, is becoming increasingly exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s therefore crucial that those affected learn new ways of coping and make an effort to block off time in their busy lives for essential and regular down-time in the form of naps and breaks , and allow themselves longer sleeping hours.
Why? Because quite aside from the pressures inherent in the average workplace, we are also being constantly bombarded with stimulus from many directions – TV, Advertising, Facebook, texts, emails, and the often depressing world news and news on the economy. In addition, we have plenty of other demands on our time in the shape of relatives, family and friends. It’s like a 24-hour blitz on our energy systems, and we have got so used to it, we think it’s NORMAL!!
But it ISN’T!
Never, in the history of mankind, have we EVER had so much information to take in, so many choices to make (all those small decisions add up when we’re constantly having to make them!), or been put under so much daily pressure. Our bodies and nervous systems are simply not up to dealing with the relentless pace of all the things that are thrust upon us on an everyday basis.
This is why we need holidays and time out. Because not taking a break is actually unsustainable! It simply leads to less productivity, more stress and the danger of burnout.
But how many of us take our technology away with us on holiday? We’ve become so reliant on mobiles and emails that we keep our smart phones with us, pack our tablets and iPads, and continue to check and send emails whilst on vacation. Even worse, we frequently feel we have to (or are pressured into) staying in contact with the office whilst we’re away trying to relax and unwind!!
What kind of a holiday is that?
If you recognise yourself from what I’ve described, why not have a look at the suggestions below which could help you simplify your life, allow you to quieten your over-stimulated mind and learn to chill out more effectively on holiday:
• If you want to take your mobile – switch it off and promise yourself that you’ll only check it once a day instead of keeping it on all the time. If someone desperately needs to contact you, they’ll leave a message.
• Seriously consider whether you REALLY need to take your tablet, iPad or whatever. The sky won’t fall in if you don’t check FaceBook or LinkedIn, and life will go on even if you’re not regularly emailing, writing reports or surfing the Net !
• Give yourself a media holiday and take a break from the national news!
• Try going without wearing your watch. You might notice how often you habitually check the time! Holidays are spaces in our lives where we’re better off if we can be less driven by timings and schedules.
• As you feel that sunshine seeping into your bones and muscles and easing out all the tension, allow yourself to get back in touch with your body and give it some appreciation for the battering it takes and how much it gives to you on a day-to-day basis. And while you’re at it, give some appreciation to yourself for all the efforts you’ve made since the New Year. Say some nice encouraging words to yourself instead of telling yourself you could do better or just focussing on the things you didn’t manage to do, or which weren’t perfect.
• Enjoy walking along the beach in the early morning or watching the sun sink below the horizon in the evening. When I was in Goa, I used to go down to the sea every evening and watch the great red sun sink into the waves. The light dancing on the water was mindblowing and always brought me to a state of great inner peace.
• Taking time out to walk, sit, or be in Nature is very meditative and gives you a great sense of connection and expansion which is tremendously beneficial on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels. It’s important to find that space within ourselves which allows us to pause and be still, even if it’s for just a few minutes each day.
And when you come back from your holiday…….
• Learn how to power nap and make some time each day to have a brief snooze. It need only be for about 10-15 minutes and it’s incredibly refreshing. Some enlightened companies like Google and Procter & Gamble have provided a nap room in their offices in the knowledge that a short doze helps people to be more productive and creative, less stressed and altogether healthier and happier.
• Walk part of the way to work instead of relying on public transport which is always jangling in the rush hour.
• Make a decision to UNPLUG once a week. Yes! Turn OFF those phones and computers! Take an email holiday! Think of it as a digital detox!! The best time for many people is halfway through a Saturday though some people prefer to make it for the whole of Sunday and some even manage it for most of the weekend!
• Sunday in the Christian faith has always been a day of rest and it’s a really good idea to give yourself a day off once a week. Designate one day per week for when you can switch off and chill out. Why not try to ensure that on that day, you not only stay away from computers and phones, you organise it so you can give yourself a day off chores and housework and spend time relaxing and doing enjoyable things. Get out in the open air, if possible. Ladies might also like the idea of going without makeup for a day in order to give the skin a rest and indulge in a bit of pampering.
• Playtime isn’t just for kids – so always try to make some time to let yourself have fun and either enjoy doing an activity which brings you pleasure or spend time with people you love.
• Remember: the body and mind switches into self-healing mode when it’s relaxed. It cannot heal if it’s tense.
• Therefore …..Learn to meditate and see how beneficial this can be for body mind and soul over time. Research has shown that meditation changes our brainwaves allowing our minds to un-stress and expand and ultimately bring great relaxation. Just 10-15 minutes a day is better than nothing.
• Seriously consider learning Reiki which is a gentle hands-on healing technique which rebalances mind, body and spirit. You can learn to give this simple but powerful rebalancing to yourself and it’s so EASY!!
• And finally, also consider learning EFT which is a simple tapping technique which acts to release tension and the intensity of emotion felt around difficult memories and various other uncomfortable issues – even ones which have been causing distress for many years. You can also use it to help you feel better about yourself which is always worthwhile!
In short, ANYTHING you can do to help relieve the background murmur of stress and pressure in your daily life will be worth its weight in gold. Why not make yourself a promise to be kind to your hard-working body, and give it the breaks it so desperately needs so it can heal and restore itself?