I've just got back from a refreshing Easter weekend away. Just like you before the long weekend I'd been working my butt off and I was counting down the sleeps till my weekend away. I couldn't wait to kick back, forget about the world and just knew I'd return energised, refreshed and raring to go.
Psychologists have shown that holidays are mentally beneficial. They allow you to distance yourself from the people, pressures and demands of life and instead immerse yourself in new places, new cultures and cuisine. Holidays give you the opportunity for a good night's sleep and to drift from experience to experience rather than focusing on one thing for long hours. They can refresh you physically and mentally but how long does that feeling actually last?
How long does the holiday feeling last?
A comprehensive meta-analysis study by Jessica de Bloom, now at the University of Tampere in Finland, demonstrated that these benefits generally fade within two to four weeks. In fact in one study of 96 Dutch workers that energetic, less tense feeling dissipated after just one week!
A holiday is like eating a piece of chocolate fudge cake, an immense pleasure that doesn't last very long. It's unrealistic to live permanently on holiday for most of us so if we want to excel ourselves towards more happiness, energy and productivity what's the alternative?
How to stay mentally healthy
Leslie Perlow of the Harvard Business School and her colleagues tracked the habits of employees at the Boston Consulting Group, after five months of regular time off and restful evenings employees reported they were more satisfied with their jobs, more content with their work-life balance, more likely to see a future for themselves with the company and prouder of their achievements.
So what time do you clock off work to enjoy your evenings? How often do you allow yourself time off, without thinking about work?
It looks like prioritising your rest/downtime actually has a significant impact on your happiness, energy and productivity. Perhaps you need to relook at your life and make some adjustments. Want to start with rest right now? Download my 10 minute Rest and Refresh audio and I'll deliver it straight to your Facebook Messenger. Don't wait till your holiday, boost that refreshed feeling every day.
So, do you wait for your holiday to rest or do you make it part of everyday life? What stops you from resting? What tips do you have for others? Please do join the conversation by commenting below.
Until next time
You may not be a Fortune 500 company but that doesn't mean you can't learn from the projects they spend millions of pounds and years investing in, Tony Schwartz, a journalist and CEO of The Energy Project has worked with companies like Google, Apple, Ford and many others helping them revolutionise their understanding of downtime and energy.
The Energy Project's strategy relies in part on the idea I fully support of regularly topping up physical and mental energy. Schwartz says, 'People are working so many hours that not only in most cases do they not have more hours they could work, but there's also strong evidence that when they work for too long they get diminishing returns in terms of health costs and emotional costs."
You may believe that busier is better, and watched endless You Tube videos telling you that in order to be successful you have work harder/more hours but this goes against the findings of so many research studies. It's great to hear that large companies are starting to understand the reality of human functioning and the benefits of downtime on productivity.
Schwartz says that time and time again his strategies of sleep, power naps, meditation and doing the most challenging tasks first thing in the morning have pushed workers' overall engagement well above the average level and that Google has been satisfied enough to keep up the partnership for more than five years.
If it's good enough for Google, it's good enough for us.
Are you being productive or just a busy fool?
If you are working a ridiculously long hour week and aren't getting your downtime you aren't being productive....FACT!!!
Research has shown that regularly working long hours is actually detrimental to your productivity. It is not sustainable nor conducive to the function of learning or mental processing. It can actually leads to negative symptoms like imposter syndrome and feeling overwhelmed. I talked about this connection in this blog.
So what are you going to start doing today to readdress the balance?
In my experience revolutionising your life is unlikely to stick. I recommend picking 2 or 3 small things which you can do differently and focus on doing those consistently. Suggestions may be:
Remember if it's good enough for Google, it's good enough for you. Update your belief about how to be the most productive, decide on one or two things which are really going to work for you and commit to doing them consistently and take some steps to readdress your balance.
I hope that's helped
Until next time
PS. If you're struggling to rest, would like support in improving your mindset or help to let go of limiting beliefs book a complimentary 30 minute Mindset Review and I'll happily give you some help.
Nearly all the entrepreneurs I chat to experience some kind of imposter syndrome (that feeling you're going to be found out/aren't good enough), many also say they are experiencing symptoms of feeling overwhelmed. And yet when I chat to them and ask, 'how much time do you give yourself to rest' they laugh and say, 'I don't have time to rest'. I then find out what they do when they're not working and usually find they either have very little time when they're not and/or they fill their time with activities like facebook, instagram and watching TV.
It is averaged that in any given day we are bombarded with the equivalent of 174 newspapers of information and in this blog (Why Resting Isn't Idle) I talked about how resting is far from being idle but a fundamental process in helping us to understand the information we receive.
If you are experiencing symptoms of imposter syndrome or feeling overwhelmed then you may be guilty of taking in so much information every day but not giving yourself the mental time you need to process it? You are suffering from information overload.
How to stop the negative impacts of information overload
At first making changes to the way in which you live can be hard and take practise but we are learning beings and so long as your reasons are big enough any new behaviour will form a habit pretty quickly. Take a look at your life at the moment and assess the following:
1) How much information do you take in each day? What can you reduce? - Since information comes into your life at all times these days and the high from social media is addictive you need your own self-discipline. Focus on the things you can change, turn off your notifications and set some boundaries which you feel are reasonable eg I'll look at social media twice a day for 10 minutes and that's it or I can plan one evening per week when I don't watch TV.
2) Make time and give yourself permission to rest - this is time to daydream and process information, not watch TV, read a book etc. Go for a walk and actually enjoy the walk, sit looking out of the window or ponder the world whilst you drink your coffee. It may take practise and feel a little weird at first but it is worth it.
Get used to your own thoughts, don't assess them, action them or get worried by them, they are just a thought and they can come as fast as they can go. This time is about giving your unconscious mind time to process, make connections and strengthen your mental pathways of learning.
If you're struggling, download my 10 minute audio and give it a listen. When you start this practise of resting it may feel strange so listening to someone talking you through it can make it easier.
Some people also rest by doing, if that's you thats absolutely fine but pick an action which is mundane and repetitive, something which requires no new learning or much cognitive application examples may be doing a jigsaw, washing dishes, walking, running, climbing etc. For people who rest by doing these repetitive actions distract your conscious mind and allow you to focus on processing your day. If you're not daydreaming the action is too involved!!!!
Most important of all, change your belief that resting is a nice to have, or that by resting you're being lazy, resting is a fundamental human function and without it you struggle to process life!!
Want a whole day of resting, recouping and reconnecting with who you are? Details for my next Reconnect With You workshop can be found by clicking below and join me in the woods for a whole day of mental processing which can help you refocus, re-energise and overcome your symptoms of imposter syndrome and overwhelm.
Until next time
Click here: Reconnect With You 1 day Workshop
Did you know that your brain demands 20% of all the energy the human body produces and only demands 5-10% more energy than usual when someone is solving a math problem or reading a book. In his research Marcus E Raichle also noticed that a particular set of brain regions consistently became less active when someone concentrated on a mental challgenge but began to fire in synchrony when someone was lying still in a functional MRI scanner, letting their thoughts wander.
This circuit which mysteriously came alive when people were daydreaming eventually became known as the default mode network (DMN) and is one of the most researched of the resting state networks.
In recent research Mary Helen Immordino-Yang of the University of Southern California and her co-authors found that the resting mind is anything but idle and instead downtime is in fact essential to mental processes that affirm our identities, develop our understanding of human behaviour and install an internal code of ethics.
Downtime is when we mentally rehearse conversations to help us develop deeper understanding, it helps us process the day's learning and also gives us the ability to reflect our external world inward to boost our productivity, creative thinking and reasoning.
6 ways your mind/body is telling you to rest
So when was the last time you gave yourself permission to rest? And when I say rest that doesn't necessarily mean a week long vacation or a day off at a spa. If you are struggling with any of these symptoms it can be a sign that you need to increase the amount of rest you experience in your day.
Our minds need rest as much as our bodies need vitamin D so reframe your belief that rest means being idle, it's actually a fundamental function of how the human mind works.
What would you do if you were free of the symptoms above? How would your life improve? How would you feel??
How to get more rest and still get things done
How many times a day do you worry, stress and think about the symptoms above? How much time does that take from your day?
What if you were to readdress where you spend your mental energy and spend that time resting instead? Doing this isn't easy, it takes practise but you can absolutely get started and I promise you it will have an amazing impact on your life and your ability to achieve.
It doesn't have to take long, a couple of research studies suggest just 10-20 minutes per day can make a positive impact.
This is why I created my 10 minute Rest and Refresh Audio, so you can have a go and see what a difference it makes. Click below to download the audio and make resting an important part of your day.
If you are someone who struggles to relax, that's absolutely fine. There are many different ways to relax. Not everyone relaxes by taking a breath or drifting off to a beach. If you need help learning how to relax/rest get in touch I can certainly help.
Until next time