5 good reasons to take time out

A strange thing happens when you leave, for a time, the woods you normally walk in.  You get to see other things, and learn from them.  And you also get to see your own woods from a new perspective, from another hill perhaps.   Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Life is a mixture of activity and rest.  It’s the way our bodies are built, and it’s hard to argue with biological nature.  Watch most animals, and even plants, and you will observe them having times of furious activity, and other times when they seem barely alive.  So don’t ever be disappointed with yourself if you find yourself craving rest – it’s quite possible that your body is reminding you of something that your nature has been used to for millions of years.

I am taking time out to remind you of five good reasons why taking time out is a good thing.  Even if you are the most naturally busy person in the world.

Have you ever noticed how your skin improves after a good sleep?  How it seems less irritable, slightly smoother, sometimes slightly shinier?  That’s the result of your body having a bit of extra time to mend itself.  If you are always burning the candle at both ends, then your body only gets a chance to do basic maintenance – your relationship with your body becomes like a badly maintained marriage: you and your body become distant partners, unsure whether you can rely on each other.

Yes, you need times of intense research in order to have ideas in the first place.  But, once your research is done, you also need down time when you allow your brain to assimilate what you have learned, and relate it to the rest of your thoughts.  That’s how new information becomes integrated with old information.  Think of a society undergoing change.  It is not just a matter of information dissemination – plays are written and performed, films made, books written, conversations had… assimilating the new is like that – a wholistic venture, which needs time out to play and integrate.

A senior director at a big TV company once told me that most relationships, even work ones, were made in the hours outside work, when people let their guard down a little, relax, and digest the day in a friendly way.   It wasn’t what I wanted to hear – at the time I was quite driven, and wanted to think that we lived in a meritocracy which rewarded hard work in work time only.  But, in the years since, i have observed this effect countless times.  Even sports teams, who train together intensely, know the psychological value of also knowing how to relax together.

This is a really weird reason.  But it’s true.  One day you will die.  We all do this.  And it’s excellent practice for accepting death, to accept little deaths along the way.  Taking time out teaches you to be redundant.  It teaches your loved ones to do without you.  It stops you arrogantly thinking that the world cannot progress without your input.  So, now and again, withdraw from the world, resign as its General Manager (busybodies, you know who you are!), and let others have a go.  Nothing will collapse without you.  And, if it does, perhaps it was supposed to collapse 😉

Are you a creature of habit, who always gets up early, works hard, and then does the same thing every evening?  Is your life so regimented that there is no time to play?  If so, then perhaps it has to be like that.  Maybe you are a doctor, working long hours because your contract says you should, or because a natural disaster or human suffering leads you to.  I’m not going to argue with that.  But I still want to ask the question:

‘Is the hat you are wearing the thing that you love, that you feel drawn to?  Is it worth giving yourself more time to play, to do something else?’

A strange thing happens when you leave, for a time, the woods you normally walk in.  You get to see other things, and learn from them.  And you also get to see your own woods from a new perspective, from another hill perhaps.

So think about swapping jobs with someone else for a rest.  What new hats could you wear, just for a week, or a day, or an hour, for whatever time you can afford?  If you don’t create space for something or someone new, how will they ever find you?

You will often find yourself craving rest.  Don’t ignore the call.  Rest is part of the natural process of your body and mind.  Rest and relaxation is also socially important – it’s how you make new friends, try out new lifestyles.  And, above all, it’s humble… one day, you will not be here, and it’s just as well to withdraw sometimes, and teach the world that it can do without you.

So stop… relax… and breathe.  I dare you.

If you are interested in counselling to achieve work-life balance, then click the link below, and send a brief message outlining the change you would like to make.  We’ll do the rest.  We appreciate that it’s hard to take a first step; but we look forward to hearing from you.