With 50-plus hour work weeks, most busy professionals feel the squeeze: There’s no time to unplug, relax or unwind. Endless obligations, deadlines and stress are all culprits of this fast-paced lifestyle.
Here’s the hard truth. Time is a non-negotiable, nonrenewable resource. It’s your responsibility to measure and allocate it. If you don’t take control and prioritize downtime, know this: Frenzy and dissatisfaction are uneasy bedfellows.
Want to recapture your sanity? It’s not as difficult as you may think. Shake off the 9-to-5 grit for a few hours midweek with these essential tips:
1. Draw a hard line in the sand.
If you're serious about embracing relaxation, you can’t straddle the fence. That means you’ll need to draw a hard line in the sand, with activities that promote rest and relaxation put on one side and all things work on the other.
Don’t mix the two. It’s easy to fall into the trap of working a little and relaxing a little, which is counterproductive. No man can serve two masters. Take the road less traveled and govern yourself accordingly.
Plan a relaxation period in advance. Complete critical tasks before you unplug and then revisit final touches later. Your brain and body need a break from constant engagement or burnout can result.
How do you break the chains that bind? Reach for leisure, comfort and white space. They are the foundation for clarity and promote good decision making, which help to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. You need and deserve them.
2. Vanquish distractions.
They may look pint-size at first but big distractions often come in small packages. Don’t underestimate the power of technology. A touch of a button can send a period of respite into a downward spiral. Of course you don’t want to miss an emergency, but incessant texting and mindless chatter clearly defeat the purpose.
Set aside a few specific times during your hours of dedicated relaxation to check for emergencies, but that's it. Resist the urge to rev up the engagement engine. Remember, this is your time for R&R. Therefore, it’s critical to practice behaviors that reflect a higher level of thinking because your mind will easily prefer the default position. Be smarter. Command time and space with a renewed sense of self in mind.
Related: Apply the Brakes Before You Break
3. Become antisocial.
What would happen if you unplugged from all the bright, shiny apps that typically keep you tethered to cyberspace? Social media diversions, when used to decompress, can be useful. But pigging out on social media can cause you to experience stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Plus the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders recently added Internet Gaming Disorder as a condition requiring more research.
4. Reach for nothingness.
You don't have to be a master yogi to shut down the busyness of your mind. Reach for stillness. Close your eyes. Shut your blinds. Contemplate nothingness and embrace white space, physically, mentally and emotionally. Don’t be intimidated by quietude. It’s perfectly fine to check out of your physical and mental environment from time to time.
Use positive imagery to reboot your subconscious. What the mind harbors the body manifests. Guard the gateway of your mind: Allow admission to only carefully selected thoughts. Negativity and renewal are like oil and water. Keep the junk out. Give heath and well being an opportunity to flourish.
5. Relax, rewind and refuel.
Once you’ve cleared the path to tranquility, go ahead and indulge in enriching activities. The problem is that most people don’t know how. Do you? If not, make a list of the top-10 activities that make you feel good. Be creative!
There are no rules. Your list could include something as simple as listening to your favorite music or more involved like taking a hike. Whatever you choose, just make sure that you enjoy yourself. As the saying goes, “Work hard, play harder.” There's absolutely no shame in self-renewal. So go ahead, show yourself a good time.
Need some help charting out your list of feel-good activities? The Greatist has charted out 40 ways to get your creative juices flowing.