If You Get Tired, Learn To Rest

Our lives have become so packed, so busy, so noisy, and so full of conflict. At the end of the day, we feel drained, cranky and overly judgemental. Some of us numbly pace through our days not knowing how out of balance we are, finding nothing to smile about. We might sleep in on Sunday but still wake up feeling tired. Why is that?

Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D. and author of ‘Sacred Rest’, identified seven types of rest we need in order to feel happy, productive and fulfilled. Dalton-Smith spoke at TEDxAtlanta about how to correct rest deficit from diagnosing patients for common ailments.

What it all comes down to is that sleep is not the same as rest. Sleep is the result of how well we rest, and rest is associated with interrupting activities resulting in a relaxed state. So, if we lack rest, we won’t sleep well.

Here are the seven types of rest and ways to recharge:

1. Physical Rest

The most familiar and obvious type of rest. Your body needs time to recover whether from a workout or sitting behind your laptop. So, take some time to stretch your body and breathe deeply to expand your lungs. As we age, our body will inevitably wear down. Eventually, our need for rest becomes more noticeable.

Physical rest, such as releasing tension and calming your body, repairs and rebuilds the body and mind. When we exert ourselves physically or mentally, we long for the restoration of our energy. Researchers have shown that both the physical stress of manual labour and even the emotional stress of a desk job require subsequent rest for the body and mind to recuperate.

2. Mental Rest

We can all relate to this: when your mind is tired, you get bad-tempered and unfocused, making it easier to make mistakes and experience memory lapses. The more you let your mind wander in past events thinking what you would like to change, self-critiques, and judging others, the quicker you wear out your brain. The same is true with what-ifs about future events.

What you could do is, throughout the day and evening, schedule activities that take little thought. If you can, ground yourself to the present by walking through grass with your bare feet, so you can feel the earth. Also, truly listen to your surroundings, take it all in and let things be.

If you can’t go outside, try to meditate three times a day for five minutes. In the evening, it’s okay to watch some mindless YouTube videos to let your brain process what occurred during the day. You might laugh a little before you go to sleep.

3. Social Rest

This is not about some alone time, it’s rather the opposite. The sad part is, even when you’re around a lot of people, it’s possible to still feel lonely. We are group animals and we all need to be seen, loved, and appreciated by others from time to time. Hopefully, you get this from real people you can relax with who won’t judge or offend you and vice versa.

So, make new friends if you need to. Find like-minded people, whether to hike together, read and talk about books, enjoy the same hobby, or play the same game as you. Face-to-face time is important. Besides live meetings, even acknowledgement from people you know on social media can help.

4. Creative Rest

As we age, we often lose our sense of creativity. You might find ways to express your creative talents in art you enjoy, such as music, dance, and comedy to renew your appreciation for beauty and originality. Creative rest is a creative act in itself. Sometimes, we need to waste time. The poet John Ashbery said it so well: “I waste a lot of time. That’s part of the creative process. The problem is you can’t really use this wasted time. You have to have it wasted.” Of course, “wasted” is a contradiction in this case.

What we learn is by having wasted time we give it a certain value. Our desperate need to create is often opposing to creativity itself. You might want to give it a rest by being a beginner again to reawaken your sense of curiosity in creativity.

Sometimes the best way to give our creative minds a rest is to give our bodies a workout. A study by Stanford found that walking outside produced twice as many creative ideas as sitting in a room. Even participants who walked on a treadmill while staring at a blank wall were able to produce, on average, 60 per cent more ideas that were both novel and appropriate, also known as creative.

5. Emotional Rest

It’s good to cry once in a while because the release can lead to relief and maybe even joy and laughter. Also, the constant pressure to perform and pretend to be someone else can lead to emotional overload. Find people you trust who won’t judge or bombard you with advice to talk about the pressures you feel. Say no when your plate is too full.

When you feel insulted, ignored, unappreciated, or misunderstood, tell them that you feel this way and ask for what you need to move the conversation or relationship forward. When you notice you are hesitating to reach out to someone or start a new task, ask yourself what you are afraid will happen. Talking about your fears out loud often decreases the power they have over your actions.

Be sure you have people in your life whose positive perspective influence your own. Hang out with or at least listen to people who make you laugh when you need an emotional lift.

6. Spiritual Rest

This is not necessarily about religion; it’s about your sense of connection to something bigger than yourself, a purpose.

If you don’t have a life purpose, you can cultivate a sense of purpose. Let music or uplifting videos reunite your body and mind spirit. Allow yourself to feel the warmth of a beautiful sunset, the bloom of a flower, plants soaking up drops of water from rain, or a child’s touch. Journal about these moments to preserve them when you feel disconnected.

7. Sensory Rest

Most of us are overloaded with noise in our environments, interruptions from our computers and phones, artificial light, stressful driving, and other distractions at work and home. You need to take breaks from your electronics to rest your mind and vision.

Our bodies are always processing sensory input. Even when we’re laying still, we can feel the air on our skin and the pressure of gravity pressing our bodies into our beds. Our minds stay active, assessing our environment, observing potential threats or concerns and thinking about the next step.

Relax your senses by immersing yourself in music you love, get whiffs of fresh air, use aromatherapy or cooking to take in good smells, and rub your hands in things you love to touch to awaken your senses individually. 

Also, Slow Down

For about a week, I have been feeling tired and worn out. So, I had no choice but to turn in. I could have pushed another few hours of work in the evening or done something more productive, but right now the most productive thing I can do is rest.

When you race from one thing to another, you end up leading a busy but insignificant life. Every time you’re too busy to enjoy a meal, meet up with your friend, or visit a family member, remind yourself to slow down and be in the present. It’s about making the person in front of me feel important and appreciated, because they are. It’s about focussing on the present moment, or everything else you do will suffer.

If you’re rushing through life when you should have been resting, then I challenge you to do the following: Instead of trying to increase the illusional quantity of time, focus on the quality you have with the time you have right now.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • Why are feeling tired?
  • Which type of rest are you lacking?
  • How do you plan to correct your lack of rest?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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Time Management Really Is About Self-Management

Woman holding clock at 4:20.

The idea of time management is typically defined as one’s ability to use time productively and efficiently, especially in cases such as school and work.

However, David Allen, productivity consultant and the inventor of the “Getting Things Done” method, says time management is a misleading term. “You can’t manage time anyway. Time just is,” David said. “But you can manage yourself during time, so what you manage is your attention, your focus.”

Managing Ourselves During Time

Every single one of us has the same amount of time each day. There’s no way to store, to borrow, to save, or to increase time. The only thing we can do is to decide how to use it, and we all want to use time on activities of higher value rather than lower. What it all comes down to is that time management is a game of choices, or in other words, knowing how to manage ourselves during the time that we have.

We are continuously squeezing as many tasks as we can into our days, when in fact, it’s really about simplifying how we work, getting things done faster, and doing things better. By doing so, we’ll have more times for play, rest, and doing the things we love. Isn’t that what we all want?

Instead of working harder, try investing in working smarter.

Write Your Own Time Management Rulebook

Below, you’ll find five of my preferred and favourite techniques. They are a combination of principles, rules, and skills that allow you to put your focus on the things that matter. It will also allow you to get more done and help you be more productive.

But keep in mind that everyone is different. These are the time management or self-management techniques that I find useful in my life, but you might not. Adopt the ones that work for you and always seek to refine your own practices by regularly thinking about how to improve in managing yourself.

When you write your own time management rulebook, you’ll find out that there are really enough hours in a day for everything you’d like to do. It just takes a bit of rearranging and re-imagining to find them.

1. Plan Around Your Energy Level

You may not realise this, but productivity is directly related to your energy level. Get to know yourself and find your most productive hours. When you know that, plan your work around those periods. Schedule it in such a way that you first do the high-value and high-energy task, and then followed up by low-value and low-energy tasks.

For example, I’m a morning person, so I do my most critical work from 9 AM till noon. I know that after lunch, my energy level will crash a bit, so it’s a great time to clear my inbox, make some phone calls and read some articles or blogs.

It’s also good to know your energy levels by day. Some hate Mondays, just because. Tuesday may be your most productive day? Wednesday…, anyways, if you don’t have a clue, map your work and energy levels in a spreadsheet for a couple of weeks until you identified your productivity patterns.

2. Identify Your Most Important Work

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first,” Mark Twain once said.

That frog is your Most Important Task (MIT) for the day and it’s best to tackle that first, because your MIT should be that one task that creates the most impact in progression on your work. When you get it done, it will give you the momentum and a tremendous sense of accomplishment early in the day which sets up the rest of your day. That is how you can achieve big life goals, day after day, with continuous efforts.

Look at your ‘to-do’ list and decide which tasks help you get closer to your goals and make progress in meaningful work. Put these at the top of your list so you can focus on them first and resist the temptation of tackling the easiest tasks at the start of your day.

3. Set Time Constraints For Yourself

Learn to set deadlines, because you become more productive when you allocate a specific amount of time to complete a specific task. Parkinson’s law states: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. So, in other words, if you reduce the time you have to complete a task, you force your brain to focus and complete it.

Set deadlines even when you don’t need to. What happens is that you force your brain to focus. This way, you create a sense of urgency that pushes you to focus and be more efficient, even if you end up having to go back and add more time later.

For example: When I edit an article or a blog, a task that normally takes me around 60 minutes, I reduce the time available to 40 minutes. I create an urgency for myself, so I can increase my focus to work as hard as I can to beat 40 minutes. Also, knowing I only have 40 minutes to complete editing will ensure I don’t waste 20 minutes on checking the feed on social media.

4. Eliminate Distractions Around You

Get rid of all potential distractions, because they will hurt your productivity and focus. A study from the University of California Irvine found that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task after getting distracted.

In addition, let’s say that you have found your focus, but you got interrupted, it can take you twice as long to get back into the rhythm. Half an hour completely focused on a task is more productive than two hours switching between tasks. Let that sink in for a bit. That’s nuts, right?

Meanwhile, eliminate distractions from your work to avoid switching tasks.

5. Work From A Calendar

I have recently picked this one up: to work from a calendar instead of a to-do list. What I find useful is that a calendar forces me to rethink my work from tasks to time units. It is a small change, but it increases the chance of getting things done.

Basically, a to-do list is where you list and define “what” your activities are, while a calendar is where you identify “when” you’re going to do those things and how much time is needed to complete them.

Here’s why it works: the more you plan and schedule your time with purpose, the less time there is for others to take over your schedule. Do this mindfully and leave enough room for unexpected tasks that require immediate attention. There’s no way you’ll get it right immediately, so move things around and reschedule when needed as you progress.

Enjoyment Is Your Fuel

We all want to spend more time doing things that we enjoy, and that includes our job. Work can and should be fun. Nowadays, it’s so easy to get caught up in our busyness that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing.

Therefore, use time in activities you value, such as spending time with your family, visit your dear friend who misses you, or practising a new hobby. The enjoyment you get from these activities will become your productivity fuel at work.

Originally published at ye-chen.com.

  • How do you manage yourself?
  • Do you have any other tips?
  • Do you find enjoyment in what you do?

Have your say in the comment section 🙂

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