Good day, team.
The coach’s challenge this week is about restoring ourselves. It’s a great topic for this time of year, as nice weather beckons us to relax and take some time off.
I’ve often gone on vacation only to find myself more stressed than refreshed when I return home. Vacation has more to do with our state of mind than how much time we take off. A lot of people try to use the skills that make them effective at work — organizing, planning and directing — to make their vacations a success. The trouble is, this approach is generally not compatible with a state of rest and relaxation. Putting ourselves in a relaxed mode is a real trick when we’re used to moving quickly and efficiently throughout our days.
One way to aid mental relaxation is to engage in a recreational activity that requires attention. Many people say that when they go skiing in the mountains, they don’t think about anything else because it requires their full attention. This focused activity allows them to stop thinking about anything else and just be in the moment — and these kinds of activities are highly restorative. Yesterday, while canoeing with my grandsons, I stopped thinking about work or what to fix for dinner or anything other than being in that canoe with my husband and the kids, paddling across the lake. It was glorious!
The key to taking time off to restore oneself seems to be in our ability to stay in the present moment, to think only of what we are doing now, where we are now, who we are with now. If we’re still thinking about work while we’re talking to our families, we are not very effective at communicating with them. If we’re lying in the hammock on the weekend worrying about something at work, how much are we able to relax? Conversely, if we’re in a meeting dreaming about our upcoming vacation, we’re obviously not being effective at work.
This week, try spending at least 30 minutes each day (outside of work!) just relaxing and allowing yourself to “vacate.” Try not to put any demands on yourself. In the words of Josephine Rathbone, pioneering professor of health and physical education at Columbia University’s Teachers College, “If we could learn how to balance rest against effort, calmness against strain, quiet against turmoil, we would assure ourselves of joy in living and psychological health for life.”
Have a great week!
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