During school, a lot of us don’t take a break. Most people in the US have a type of Protestant work ethic of working hard and having our children live better than we did. Self-reliant, preserving is the motto. Vacation, relaxation, and time for contemplation is not part of this ethic. Yet, we all have the experience of finally getting away, feeling our body’s relax after a few days, our face softens, and how we are in fact better able to deal with the stressors of the days and weeks.
I’m reminded of two stories about relaxation and work. The first is about my stepbrother, Bill. He realized that just walking to his car got him out of breath. As it turned out, he had at least one heart attack, required several heart stints, and is in cardiac rehab. He always pushed and ran himself ragged, rarely taking a break.
The second story is about Lee from my doctorate days. He came over one Sunday and we talked about doing school work. He told me he never worked on Sundays. You would have thought he told me the sky was purple–I just could not believe that anyone took off from working daily, even on Sundays. I was accustomed to working every day, including Sundays, if even just for a few hours.
The point is that stress is only acknowledged after its let up, and that the way we think about relaxation is not necessarily the only way to think about downtime. So learn the lesson without the rehab: take this summer, plan a break for at least 4 days and at least quarterly. Get exercise, eat healthy food, read something not work related, reconnect with those you love, breathe deeply, get a massage….you get the idea.
I wish you all a great, relaxing summer. We’re ready to take your call when you get back. In the meantime, enjoy!
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