If you want to work hard and not burn out in the long term you simply have to learn to relax harder.
Quite simply you cannot run on adrenaline and caffeine forever although it is surprising how long some people last through will power alone. The key to sustainable energy is to play hard and then rest hard to recover well before playing hard again.
In today’s busy, work oriented culture where everybody always wants more and want it faster, the culture-scape around you might be giving you the signals that resting, relaxing and taking time out is a cop out or a waste of precious time.
If you come up against resistance to slowing down or giving yourself that downtime you know is best for you, consider the long term and play it out.
Ask yourself – if you keep going the way you are going what will your health and wellness be like 5 years from now 10 years from now or 20 years from now.
Relaxation, rest and recovery are what will give you the stamina to keep going into your old age and allow you to enjoy the journey along the way.
Don’t trust a busy mind
A stressed, busy or tired mind is like a drunk mind, you cannot trust it because it is not operating from a balanced state. The busy mind is like the loyal sheepdog in a field of sheep, he will run and run and run to exhaustion without ever knowing it is time to stop.
Instead of believing your thoughts are real, simply take a few deep breaths and check in with your body. Get in touch with how you are feeling and assess your energy levels more objectively as an observer of your own internal state. Then decide if you need to take a rest or not.
Increase your self awareness
A problem with the fast paced world and busy lifestyles most of us are accustomed to is that we rarely stop and contemplate our internal state. When we are not aware of this we are in no position to change it. However, increasing self awareness is simple and with a little effort we can snap out of our busy-ness and relax or slow down if we need to. Set up reminders throughout the day and simply ask yourself three questions?
How am I breathing?
How am I feeling?
Where are my thoughts right now?
The answers to the questions are not as important as the practice so just build the habit of checking in with self and you will grow your self awareness.
Control your breath
The key to controlling your brain waves or changing mental gears is through the breath. A few minutes of a breathing exercise like box breathing or rhythmical breathing can very quickly shift your brain into a more relaxed state. Breathing deep into the belly (diaphragmatic breathing) during these exercise mean you will also be oxygenating your brain meaning you will probably feel more refreshed and revitalised afterwards increasing productivity.
Make relaxation special
The people who most need to relax are often just too busy! If you usually have enough on your plate but have a long list of exciting things to do should you manage to carve out a few minutes out of their schedule, stopping to relax may not seem compelling for you. If you don’t make your relaxation enjoyable then you probably won’t do it! Reclaim that old hobby you used to love but somehow got too busy for, fill a luxurious bath and light the candles, book that indulgent massage you know you deserve, find the bliss in meditation or create a beautiful space in your house with zero distractions that entices you to go deep within, not without.