A few years ago, I couldn’t turn off work at all. Skipping events, arriving late to family occasions, and finding myself unable to sleep at night was the way I rolled. Sure, it wasn’t ideal, but I felt like there was no other way to get it all done. (If you're a type A, maybe you can relate?)
Then I woke up in the hospital. My kidney had failed while I was abroad due to an infection and taking too much ibuprofen to get through the painful 48-hour journey home. Insanely, my immediate reaction was annoyance that there was no Internet access in the hospital. The nurse looked at me like I was crazy.
That work ethic, that dedication may be admirable. Unfortunately, I learned it is counter productive.
But it took a while for me to see it. Because I was eating relatively well, running, and doing yoga
, I expected to bounce back quickly. So I continued living on five hours of sleep, amped up on caffeine
. But my body had had enough. It weakened until I could barely walk.
So I had to break out of the rut, to rest, step back and savor life. At first I thought I'd get fired. But the reverse happened. Because I was more energized, clearer and more satisfied, I became more productive. Refreshed, I was able to tap into the more creative, visionary side of my brain, to connect more deeply in relationships
and to be generally more effective. I wish I had done it sooner!
Want to break the cycle and reboot? Here's how:
1. Start with meals. Instead of rushing without really thinking about it, take one full hour for dinner. Turn off the TV or WiFi and make something fresh. Share it with someone you enjoy. If you're home, light candles and turn on music. Savor every bite. Try to identify the spices and flavors. This sensory explosion will relax and refresh you, providing a new perspective.
2. Schedule a non-work event 1-2 evenings a week and take at least 1 full day off a week. It could be an exercise class, a dinner, anything you enjoy that revitalizes you. If you think you can’t spare the time, try it and see how much more energized and productive it makes you.
3. Sleep 7 hours. Keep a pad by your bed so you can write down anything that keeps you up. Once it’s out, it’s much easier to sleep.
4. Recognize your value. Often what drives us so hard is feeling like we need to do everything to measure up. That’s impossible. Realize your unique value, focus on the big things and delegate what you can.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com