posted on April 13, 2012 11:02
It so clichéd, but “down time” really does matter. Do you ever schedule time to literally do nothing? You might say, “Well that’s still something,” and I’m willing to entertain the argument that nothing is still something. Fine, you win—but it’s still less draining than most other somethings! If you insist on always doing something, at least make something nothing once in a while! Are you still with me?
Do you work 50-60 hours per week or more? By making room to do “nothing,” I’m zeroing in on the time when you are not performing your work-related activities. I love to write, but I couldn’t write all day every day. I can put in 2-3 hours before I have to step back and get away from the laptop, to let those mental muscles recover and subconsciously marinate on more ideas.
Not only does the mind need rest, but the body needs rest. Sleep is the foundation of rest. Most physicians advocate at least eight hours of sleep. Some need more, some need less. I do well with seven, but sometimes my body just demands more. As Dr. Don Colbert writes, “Evidence suggests that inadequate rest and sleep may shorten life span by eight to ten years, which means you can beat the clock now but the clock will beat you later.”
I think most of us know this intuitively, but do little to modify our non-restful lifestyles. This is an area where I need more self-accountability, because as a writer with a full-time corporate role I tend to stay up later in order to engage my creativity and execute my best prose. I also get squeezed on both ends because I’m a person who wakes up rather early in order to exercise before work. It’s challenging to make it all synergize, and some weeks are better than others.
Assess what your body is telling you regarding its desperation to rest. Are you cranky quite often, feeling sluggish and nodding off at work or while driving? Your body is demanding more attention.
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