If I had the opportunity to publish motivational posters for hard working people, I would have photos of beds, chairs and hammocks with blazing headlines:
“SLEEP IN TOMORROW!"
“TAKE AN EXTRA DAY OFF!”
“REST IS UNDERRATED!”
That’s right, in the midst of a culture that demands we do more with less, that we must push, push, push ourselves and just do it, I’m recommending the opposite. At least some of the time.
I run a small business and I run marathons. I know that hard work and extra effort are essential for success. But I also know that unless I take care of myself and get the proper rest, then I will break down and fail. Completely.
We must stop celebrating people who brag about working 14-hour days and sleeping only 4 hours a night. There’s a big difference between exertion and productivity. Long hours and no sleep aren’t indicators of toughness. In fact, the opposite is true – they’re indicators that something is wrong.
Occasionally, the situation may call for drastic measures. A project falls behind, and it will take extra hours to get caught up. One spouse may lose their job, so the other person takes on extra work to help balance the checkbook. But these should be temporary conditions, not a permanent lifestyle.
When we’re tired, we aren’t in full control of our senses and emotions. We’re prone to mistakes from poor judgment. We respond with outbursts instead of thoughtful feedback. We find ourselves redoing work or apologizing for our behavior. In the end, we’re further behind than before.
Endurance athletes are often models for this type of bad behavior. By adding extra miles they got faster, so why not run even more miles? A famous runner ran 50 marathons in 50 days, so why not run a marathon a month? The sharp pain in their tendon isn’t that bad, so why not run two times today?
Exercise tears down muscles and fibers so they build up stronger as they heal. Of course, that means our bodies need time to heal. We need to rest and recover in order to grow powerful. We must find the right balance. Before we find ourselves in a doctor’s office.
Taking care of yourself isn’t something to leave to chance. In your next project plan or training schedule, include rest days. Give those “tasks” the same weight and magnitude as every other deadline or workout. No excuses for skipping designated downtime.
Rest and relaxation are good for our mind, body and spirit. With clear eyes, we can see better solutions to our problems. Renewed strength allows us to push through the next hill – metaphorical or physical. Fully restored and refreshed, we can better face the challenges of the day.
Tomorrow – or as soon as possible – give yourself a day off. Sleep in, don’t work and don’t workout. Enjoy the day and all it has to offer. Take the time to take care of you.