How absurd is it that someone else would have to point out my utter disregard for my need to rest?! First, it was the blood pressure monitor! Say what! Yep! At 22 years of age, I was being asked by a doctor to take it slow and rest a lot more. Then, it was my darling sister. After looking through the weekly schedule I had so meticulously drafted and refined, she opened my eyes to the lack of rest and rejuvenation time.
It may be hard to believe but there is a breed of humans that finds it difficult and sometimes impossible to rest. The need to keep moving, achieving and working makes us slaves to our own minds and blinds us to the warning signals our bodies try to send us. When I realized this, I resolved to study people’s rest patterns and attempt to apply them to myself until I could develop my own or find one that fits.
The Cambridge dictionary defines a workaholic as a person who works a lot of the time and finds it difficult not to work.
The Hansard archive aptly said that there is an image of efficiency nowadays which holds up the excessive workaholic for our admiration and expects the rest of us to conform. I plead guilty to this! Time and again, I have thought more highly of myself than I ought because I wake up earlier than most or get a lot more done in the day. While these are good habits to develop, my flagging energy levels at 10:00 am should be a clear indication that all work and no play will indeed make Shelah dull girl.
Tough pill to swallow…
These lessons did not go down well for me but I had to learn them! When I noticed a declining pattern in my grades, work performance and motivation to do just about anything when I did too much, I decided that rest would do me more harm than good. I have taken one day off in the past week. It was a tug-of-war to rest completely so I did a bit of work though non-academic (that was my justification). If you are like me or know anyone like me, these are 5 simple tips to help a workaholic make rest a habit.
#1. Set a schedule that factors rest in
First things first have a schedule! If you need a good template, download one from Google sheets. Then organize your daily activities on an hourly or half-hourly basis. Give specific days for activities that are not mainstream.
I would never have followed through on creating my schedule had it not been for the leadership course I am enrolled in. the freedom to do certain things had eluded me for as long as I could remember. Once I organized my time, I was able to plan for all my activities and the feeling of getting all that stuff done left me with a slight buzz.
Don’t forget to add at least 2 hours of rest within your day. Within does not mean the 7-9 hours of sleep you ought to get every night. Grab 15 minutes after you complete an assignment. Free up half your lunchtime instead of cramming your calendar with appointments. Take an hour after work to be alone away from the noise of life’s demands or just take a nap.
#2. Consider adopting staggered patterns of rest
I know how idealistic is it to expect that everyone will be able to sleep for 7-9 hours per night having tried and failed before (but I haven’t stopped trying. I can now get a good 7-hour sleep in). If you cannot do the 7-9 per night, consider taking a day off from everything every week or even two days every week.
My darling partner suggested taking a day off every two days. A classmate at the leadership course suggested the same but once a week. Another close friend of mine takes Sundays off (and this guy loves to work!). My father takes naps throughout the day.
You get the idea!
Find something and make it work for you. Consider switching off your phones, fasting social media and any work-related activities for your entire weekend or Sunday and spend the time with family, friends or on a solitude picnic in some secluded posh resort (if you budgeted for it).
#3. Set daily deliverables on a weekly basis
After seeing my pressure readings, I was in a panicked state. Enid, a friend, and classmate shared this tip with me and I thought I would do the same. Identify what you need to get done for the week. Break it down into days and possibly even hours.
Do not try to do it all in one day.
For my school project, I have resorted to measuring the materials for one day and casting the specimen tile the next. This was a result of hurting my knees after trying to do it all in one morning. I feel great that I have developed a plan that does not harm me and also gets the project done in only 4 days.
I do a lot more when I do less. The concept is counterintuitive but I have seen it with my own eyes. I can perform at my peak fir every assignment I take on because I know that it is not a daunting endless task. Since I am relaxed, my brain works really fast and gets things done in less time. Because of this, I have also quit procrastinating (even my rest). I get things done and out of the way!
#4. Listen to your body
This is very important! A physician cousin of my once told me that you cannot cheat the body, it will always collect its dues. Feigning rest just won’t cut it! I know this because I have felt the onslaught o migraines twice this week. After that one day of rest, I pushed myself harder than I had been doing before (not very wise. Don’t follow this example).
Your body speaks to you, listen!
If you are constantly irritable or tired, you might need to take 3 days off (I cringed when a friend shared this doctor’s prescription). Constant headache and backache could be signs of tension from the stress that you need to relieve as soon as now! Pay attention to your energy levels and feed your body. I have found that sometimes I am depriving my body of food at a time when it needs energy.
Learn to let go once in a while! Take a break from life (no! I don’t mean die). Rest from your workout regimen! Take a break from your diet (preferably one meal or one day). Don’t look at class assignments for a day! Do what feeds the lifeforce inside you! If it is music, attend a jazz night or spend time playing an instrument. You could even spend a day in your pajamas and watch movies or read novels all day. Cut yourself some slack and rest!
#5. Learn to say no more often
No one is holding a gun to your head to accept every assignment. Say no if you realize that you are in over your head or are on your way there. If it cannot fit into your schedule, decline it. Do this with discernment. If the opportunity is very beneficial, move things around to create time for it but do not mess with your rest time.
Disclaimer; Do not go overboard and get derailed from your targets and goals. You’ve heard it said that too much of anything is bad. So, get enough rest but do not overdo it.
Until next time,