A recent survey revealed what many of us feel: millions of Americans feel guilty about taking downtime and check email or work on weekends and vacations.
Let me relieve you of this guilt: Downtime is good for performance!
But the benefits for your soul are even greater. Having more space for creativity and relationships can be life changing. The beginning of my journey to entrepreneurship and meeting my partner started with unplugging, cutting out the noise that wasn’t adding to my life and creating space for what I truly value.
Here are seven reasons to unplug and make sure you get the rest you need and deserve:
1. Daydreaming makes you more creative and finds solutions to complex problems.
According to Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, our brain has two dominant functions: task driven and daydreaming. It can only do one at a time and we need both to function. Task-driven activities get things done, but great insight comes from daydreaming. When you're unplugged and daydreaming, your brain makes connections from seemingly arbitrary information and finds creative solutions. This is why great insights often come when you're folding your laundry.
2. Longer nighttime sleep improves athletic performance.
Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project claims sleep is a competitive advantage. He cites research by Dr. Cheri D. Mah of Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic which found that athletes performed better and reported better moods and more energy on an excessive sleep (10 hours a night for 6 weeks).
3. Vacation leads to better performance evaluations.
Schwartz also notes a study of Ernst and Young employees that found that for each additional 10 vacation hours they took, year-end performance evaluations improved 8%.
4. Naps improve concentration and performance.
Alertness declines throughout the day and can be revived with a 10 to 20 minute nap, and the benefits of giving the brain time to rest are vast.
5. Truly unplugging for a week allows you to see what you really want.
When you aren’t following your to-do list, you can do what you crave. For the first few days, it may be rest. So give yourself permission to sleep. When you wake up, you may crave connection or fulfillment or creativity. This craving can feel uncomfortable if you don’t know how to satisfy it immediately, but resist the urge to make yourself busy just to avoid it. Instead, acknowledge it and ask how could you bring more of that into your life. Listen for what answers appear over the next few days.
6. Unplugging for a few days helps you let go of what’s not working.
Much of our work is done on autopilot, responding as we always have. Taking a real break creates physical and emotional space to see patterns that need to be upgraded.
7. Naps and quality time create more satisfying relationships.
When we’re stretched, it’s impossible to truly connect. Besides feeling a little empty, studies have shown that lacking strong relationships is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Some experts even say technology overload is a leading cause of divorce! Taking the time to rest so you can be your best, truly present self can rekindle and deepen relationships. For best results, nap together.
Do you make unplugging a regular part of your life? I'd love to know how.