Renew Yourself: rest, Relax, Re-Energize
By Kellie Fowler and James Manktelow
As your workload increases and demands on you rise, you’re sure to put in more hours. In doing so, you may cut back on your sleep; forgo vacation/holiday time, and perhaps even distance yourself from family and friends. While this may seem necessary to get the job done, it serves to leave you drained and unable to perform at optimal levels.
Of course, if this is short-lived, you needn’t worry too much; however, if you try to “burn the candle at both ends” for any extended amount of time, you’re sure to see very negative effects.
In fact, you are putting yourself at severe risk of burnout.
Rest & Relaxation:
This makes rest and relaxation absolutely paramount if your goal is to accomplish the tasks at hand and remain fresh, alert and productive for the long run. In fact, rest is what we do to let stress subside. Rest at the end of a day, and at the end of a week, helps us to calm down and to regroup and re-energize.
Similarly, doing fun things that we enjoy in our leisure time compensates us for the unpleasant stress we experience at work, bringing some balance back into life. This is particularly important if we routinely experience unpleasant levels of stress.
A good way of getting rest and reducing long-term stress is to take up an enjoyable, non-rushed sport or hobby. If you spend all your working day competing, then it can be very pleasant to be completely noncompetitive for some of your free time. Slow physical activities such as sailing or walking are good for this, as are others where there is little or no pressure for performance. Reading novels, watching television or socializing can also be very restful.
Vacations are particularly important, and you really do need to take these. Where possible, take two weeks off rather than just one week. A common observation that people make is that they really do not start to relax properly until the end of their first week of vacation.
Make sure that you take your vacations and that you use them to relax. Also, make sure that you get enough good quality rest during the week to keep on enjoying life to its fullest.
The average person needs approximately eight hours sleep a night (although this can vary between three hours and eleven hours, depending on the person and his or her age).
If we are regularly short of sleep, then our concentration and our effectiveness suffer and our energy levels decline. We have all experienced this.
This diminishes our effectiveness in our job, and can therefore increase stress. As our concentration wanders, we start to make mistakes. As our energy declines, we become less proactive in what we do, reducing our control over events. This means that a situation that is already difficult and stressful can become worse, needing even more sacrifice to bring it back under control.
Make sure that you get enough sleep. If you have become used to being tired all the time, you will be amazed by how sharp and energetic you will feel once you start sleeping normally
This article is an excerpt from the Mind Tools Stress Management Masterclass. It is just one example of the things that you can do to reduce stress in your life, explained in the ‘Buffers Against Stress’ module of the course. Other tools in this module discuss the importance of social support networks and of a balanced lifestyle. As well as this, the ‘Managing Environmental Stress’ module helps you control the background environmental stresses that raise our overall stress levels. Small changes to our environment can often significantly reduce the stress we experience and improve our quality of life.