Springtime is all about renewal and rebirthing … aren’t we supposed to feel energized and rarin’ to go? Yet, instead, do you find yourself struggling to stay on top of all that needs attention in your life, never mind finding time for relaxation and pleasure? Forget about extreme Self-care!
Clients, colleagues, and friends are describing a dreadful slowly-engulfing malaise besetting more and more of us. Synthesized down, they all agree: I feel as if I can’t pull it out anymore. I can’t rebound again. I can’t get it up again. Most are running low on patience, tolerance, and hope. All are feeling an inability to keep on keepin’ on.
We live in a fast-paced world which affects our ability to accomplish all we set out to do and often results in stress and anxiety, regardless of our age. For those of us over 40, energy may be diminished further by sandwich generation caregiving, changes in hormones and body chemistry, and a higher risk of degenerative diseases as we age, etc.
Something has to give, but what is it?
Not to worry … there are ways to address the fatigue of overwhelm and reduce or eliminate the stress from draining aspects of life. Ok, so you can’t increase the number of hours in a day … but you can start now with some simple ways to increase your energy and heighten your ability to tackle tasks and enjoy your life with more gusto.
Nature teaches us that everything has its own rhythms and cycles, with highs and lows — all with built-in pause time. No surprise I refer to our meno-pause as a time to reflect, re-sort, renew, recharge — our Time Out — before we recycle into a new phase or age of life. The same requirements to “rest” or cycle down, be still, and center exist whether working out, in the midst of your creative process, or dealing with the attention span of a board or team. Take a look at any drawing depicting any process change, even the s-curves of business maturity models — everything has to cycle down for optimum recovery before recycling back into a new upward curve fueling new innovation and greater longevity.
In his 2013 New York Times article, Relax! You’ll Be More Productive, author Tony Schwartz offers what seems like a counterintuitive suggestion for reducing stress and renewing the energy which is central to enhanced performance and greater accomplishment: taking more downtime.
Schwartz suggests we aren’t meant to constantly expend energy, but to “pulse between spending and recovering energy” – a kind of “economy of physiology dance.” How many times have you reached for a cup o’ caffeinated joe or a sweet snack to heighten your energy when feeling a bit depleted?
Instead of such choices, which override the body’s signals to relax and restore, Schwartz shares how at his own company “renewal is central to how we work.” There is a room where staff can nap, meditate, or just relax. Understanding that more vacation is positively impactful, they offer four weeks off from the outset. Management encourages lunches away from the office (particularly with others), renewal breaks throughout the day, and unplugging from technology when away from work.
According to the article, “…it’s not how long, but how well, you renew that matters most in terms of performance. Even renewal requires practice. The more rapidly and deeply I learned to quiet my mind and relax my body, the more restored I felt afterward.”
By managing energy more skillfully, Schwartz asserts, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably. “In a decade, no one has ever chosen to leave the company. Our secret is simple — and generally applicable. When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work.”
How do you do with holidays and weekends? Are you mentally in your office or truly on a Time Out? What have you found works best for you to allow for dis-engagement and renewed connection?