Take a Breather – You’ve Earned It

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off well.

It occurred to me as I was getting up this morning that we seem to talk a lot about work and goals and chasing our dreams. But somewhere in the middle of all that, we need to find a little time to just relax. I find it really refreshing on a Monday morning when I ask a co-worker what they did over the weekend and they say, “Not a thing.”

I had to leave work early yesterday to work from home. I very rarely get sick, but something found a side entrance a couple of days ago and made a beeline for my lungs. I guess it’s possible my immune system was weakened from a recent bout with an intestinal virus, but some at work suggested it may be nothing more than stress. That’s entirely possible.

When you burn the candle at both ends long enough, the flames meet in the middle and there’s nothing left to burn. But if you blow out the flame for a while, the wax hardens and turns back into a solid candle, ready to burn some more.

This isn’t my way of complaining about stress. We all face it, and we all deal with it in different ways. I like to think it’s what keeps us on our toes and makes us come up with creative ways to solve a problem. But stress, like snow melting down a hillside into a small stream, has a way of sneaking up on you. Next thing you know, the stream has overflowed and you’re battling a major flood.

That’s why it’s so important to step away sometimes. And it’s not enough to leave work so you can go home and work on something else. It may be a change of pace, and it may even feel relaxing. But you’re still working. And that includes things that we would normally consider recreation. Setting up camp is still work, whether it feels like it or not.

Granted, I know people who can get lost in things like gardening, or quilting, or woodworking. And getting outside with the kids is always fun. But none of those things involves simply sitting back and watching the day go by. They still require concentration, especially when there’s a baseball barreling toward your face. And they also require a certain amount of physical activity.

Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it’s completely relaxing. I love spending the day at a theme park with my grandkids, but there is nothing relaxing about that. I usually do it on a Saturday so I can spend Sunday recuperating. Except there’s grocery shopping to do, and all those chores I didn’t do Saturday. By Monday, I’m ready to go back to work so I can rest. Know the feeling?

I’m not a proponent of being lazy, but I think there are times when we have to just let ourselves shut down for a while. Resting is lying in a hammock under a shade tree. Getting up to flip burgers on the grill is work. Resting is curling up with a good book. Tending to laundry is work. Resting is kicking back on a beach or by the pool. Are you noticing a trend here?

You may not think you have the option to just shut down, but I’m willing to bet you can. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours after the kids go to bed. Better still, send them off to visit friends for a day and spend the day soaking in a warm bath. Next weekend you can take all the kids and let their parents have a weekend off. Sometimes we have to team up.

The important thing is that you find some time to just unwind. Our bodies were designed to work, but they also need rest. And sleep alone isn’t necessarily enough. Sometimes we need a little more. Listen to your body and when it says enough, then back off and give it a break. Whatever you’re not doing today will almost certainly be there tomorrow.

Nobody likes to let things pile up. But if you face every day worn out and beaten down, those chores will seem all the more cumbersome. Give yourself time to rejuvenate, and you may be surprised how easily you can get everything done. And you might find yourself with even more time to relax. I like the way that works!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Time to Recharge Your Batteries?

Good morning! I hope your day is starting off well.

My wife and I had dinner with an old friend last night who was in town for just a couple of days. It’s always nice catching up, especially outside of work where the conversation can go to pretty much anything but work. And maybe a couple of things about work you wouldn’t say inside the office. It happens. But we mostly talked about vacations and grandkids. Fun stuff.

I had a manager several years ago who had a simple rule when we all went out to lunch – we can talk about anything except the job. If anybody violated that rule, she’d call them down quickly. “Excuse me … were you taking about work?” It was just a friendly reminder that this was our time to socialize. Whatever is going on at work would still be there when we got back.

It’s important to get away sometimes, whether it’s work or family or even our favorite hobbies. You have to take a breather and focus on something else for a while, even if that “focus” is on nothing at all. Just taking in the world around you without any expectation for what happens next. It’s not only relaxing, it’s energizing. Few things can recharge our batteries like a little solitude.

And solitude doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be alone – just that you’re away from the bustle of everyday life. It means you’re enjoying something other than the routine. It means you’ve left all the cares of the world behind and you’re just enjoying the moment.

I’m the kind of person who loves to be around other people. I have the option to work from home, but I choose not to. When I’m at work, I’m focused on work. And I have the chance to not only chat with people through text messaging, but to stop by their desk and share a more personal moment. A few seconds is all it takes. I just like people.

On the other hand, I also like being alone sometimes. When I was on the road doing comedy, I had hours each day driving to the next show, and that was my private time to think, reflect on life, and write new jokes. Sure, by the end of the day I was craving a crowd, but that’s all part of it. And then after the show, I went back to the hotel and into my world of solitude until the next show.

It’s all about balance. Too much solitude can lead to withdrawal, and too much bustle can lead to burnout. I have a friend who is one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever met. She was asking me about Stephen King’s book on writing, and I had to be honest – I’ve never read it. She was shocked. “You’re a writer and you’ve never read that book?” I know. It’s almost a requirement of the job.

But when you sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, writing technical manuals for other people to read, and then come home and write something more personal for a different audience, your eyes get tired of looking at words. Woodworking was my thing back then, and I when I needed a break from it all, I went downstairs to my shop.

I do read a little more now, mostly motivational books. At the end of a long day, I need that reminder that I have the power to accomplish great things. If you’re not getting your shot of positivity each day, I highly recommend it. Even fifteen minutes of reading will make a difference. Because, when you’re reading, no matter what it is, the outside world ceases to exist.

We all need that breather from time to time. Whether it’s dinner with a friend, driving through the country with your significant other, sitting by a river and watching boats go by, or just curling up on the sofa with a good book, we all need that escape. Even if it only lasts a short while, it makes a huge difference.

So, give yourself a little time to just enjoy whatever is happening at the moment. Schedule that time if you must and follow through. There will be times when you have to interrupt your plans, but don’t let everyone else’s whims become your priorities. Save some of that time for yourself. You’ve earned it. And even more importantly, you need it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved