Sometimes we can be so hard driving in our work and careers that we forget to take some “down time.” It is important to know that the time we need to recharge our batteries is just as important as (and vital to) the “productive” time we spend.
Matter of fact, if we contemplate all we have to do, we often get overwhelmed, tired, frustrated and plain old burnt out.
When being overwhelmed leads to paralysis, sometimes it’s just your body and mind telling you to wait. Don’t try to “push” through just because you feel you “should” or you have to.
Just as important to your career as pushing ahead toward your goals is knowing when to relax, and how to rest and recharge…
Interestingly, however, there are times when the activities we do to “play” may be more anxiety-producing than energizing, and not restful at all.
Since each of us is different, I cannot tell you precisely what YOU need to do to relax, but I can offer some suggestions to help you evaluate if your preferred activities are really allowing you to relax.
Do you feel fulfilled, restful, peaceful and full of joy?
Many times we choose activities for ourselves that simply distract or divert us, but don’t really allow us time to relax and wind down.
For example, movies and television can be just another way to fill our minds with mush OR they can be a beautiful trip to another place and time. Remember that the activities you choose need to truly work for you.
Another favorite “relaxation” activity can be eating and drinking (often, “adult beverages”). Again, does this truly fulfill you and make you peaceful, or just sleepy and tired from over indulging?
The key question is do you find yourself truly recharged, or just as if you “killed time”?
Are you able to shut your mind down?
One of the ways we get to relax is to take time that truly engages our mind in an activity that is *different* from what we are required to do at work. Some people like puzzles and mind games. Others enjoy music and art.
For myself, when I take my ballroom dancing classes, that engages my mind in technique and placement of my body, and preparation for competition – a totally different kind of activity than what I do for work.
The idea here is simply to make sure you can shut down the thinking part of your brain and relax the consciousness that is always working on our internal “to do” list. If all else fails, take a simple meditation class. It will do wonders for you.
Unhook, unplug and connect to those things that really matter.
During your “down time” are you still checking emails, responding to voice mail messages, and otherwise electronically available? It can be important to let all that go, and simply spend time with family, friends and other loved ones.
When we focus on WHY we’re doing what we do at the workplace, that can bring back focus and alignment.
Sometimes you need to take action before you can really rest.
For me, I sometimes have to clean off my desk, or clean a part of the house before I can relax. This is not just a practical matter, but also a way I can refresh my mind and start anew. It is an outward practice that symbolizes clearing my mind. Whatever practices you need to do to allow yourself to then rest, go ahead and do them.
At the end of the day, only you can determine if you are really relaxing, or just distracting and diverting yourself. But however you do it, make sure you make room for relaxation and play in your life. It will pay off in your productivity in the long run!
How do you relax and recharge?
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.