Rest & Relaxation (R&R) is not just a luxury for the well-to-do. It is essential to our well-being and is truly not optional. It is the lifeblood that keeps us sharp mentally and physically while giving our creative juices time to rejuvenate.
When I say R&R, what picture or words come to mind? Do you see R&R only as being a lavish vacation or available only to the “ladies who lunch”? Do you hear some authority figure yelling at you that you’re lazy, unproductive, and will never amount to anything? Do you simply see your to-do list growing if you even contemplate “relaxing”?
You wouldn’t think of running your car nonstop without preventative maintenance, turning it off at night, or stopping for fuel. If you did, it’d break down and simply stop functioning. So, what makes you think your body and mind should be any different and be expected to trudge on constantly?
What I’d like to know is when did leisure and free time get a bad rap? Was it back in the industrial revolution or Great Depression when busy equated to security and success? Was it when you were in grade school and you were told you couldn’t play until all your homework was done? Is it now as the media and society constantly drill home the philosophy of “more is better”?
Regardless of where the messages came from, they are loud and clear. You’re expected to work till you drop, schedule a weekly vacation away once a year (if you’re lucky) and fit the rest of your life into the fringes. Worse still is that for many people the cycle continues until retirement or death, whichever comes first. Keeping you stuck in this cycle is the fact that when you think of letting up, the news is right there pumping fear into your veins that you could be the next victim in a round of layoffs or economic downturn. No wonder we’re all so stressed and burned out!
What You Can Do
Before you can decide what to do, you need to get a clear picture of what R&R is. As I see it, it can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths to taking an extended sabbatical. It can be absolutely free or cost a sum of money. That’s the good news because with the range of options being that vast you have no excuse for not giving yourself some!
Before we talk about some definitive R&R options, ask yourself the following question:
- When was the last time I took a few minutes just for myself?
If the answer is further away than in the last 24 hours, you probably need R&R and you need some now.
Now, before we start coming up with an R&R solution, let’s get clear that adding a little R&R into your life does not mean that you become a sloth. If anything, taking some time away from the grind will fuel and nourish you so you can pursue your passions with even more vigor.
The key to R&R is to make it a regular, ongoing practice for you. Think of it like this – you brush your teeth everyday to keep them healthy. Why not do the same for you. A little bit of R&R each day will do wonders to keep you well.
Not sure what to try or how to fit it in? Here are some R&R ideas that require very little time that you might consider having in your life on a regular basis:
- Take 20-30 minutes a day to read
- Take 5-10 slow deep breaths. This is the quickest and handiest path to a relaxation response that you can get and it is available to you anytime, anyplace, and is free.
- Spend time enjoying a hobby (if you don’t have any, you need one!)
- Go to bed an hour earlier
- Take a hot, soaking bath
- Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and leisurely read a magazine
- Partake in a spiritual activity such as taking 15-60 minutes for daily meditation, prayer, or reading inspirational articles and books
- Spend some uninterrupted time with the one(s) you love (with all the electronic devices turned off)
- Take a 10 minute walk outside
- Practice yoga
- Move your body (workout, dance, cycle, kayak, whatever you enjoy)
- Pet or play with a furry friend (pets are fabulous for stress relief)
Pick at least one new R&R item from the list above (or come up with your own) and put it into your schedule starting today. Book it like you would a doctor’s appointment and don’t cancel it because you’re “too busy”. The busier you are, the more you need it.
After two weeks, check out the benefits of your R&R practice. Answer these questions:
- How am I feeling now?
- Do I have a little extra energy?
- Am I feeling more well-rested and alert?
If you pay attention to your need for R&R, I guarantee that you’ll feel better, be more productive, and ironically have a more thriving business.