How to Get Focus Better and Reduce Stress
I recently talked to my client, Sara, about the obvious transformation that I saw in her life. I asked her what changes she had implemented, she said, “I follow a schedule that's honest and I don't overbook myself. I'm happy and less stressed.”
Go back to her first sentence: I follow a schedule that is honest, and I don't overbook myself. Many of us overbook ourselves. But do we take a rest? If you think about it, most religions have a day in their week that is called “a day of rest.” Why is that? Maybe people knew something back then that we didn't know because it's getting harder and harder to take a day completely offline and rest. We're all chained to our devices. But science really does support this claim that we need a day of rest and we need the day of rest for both a physical transformation as well as a mental and emotional transformation.
I’m going to give you 12 reasons why I think that rest works.
- Time out reduces stress.
This is the #1 reason number one that you should choose to make this rest happen. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported in a CDC publication that stress levels at work are higher than ever and that health care expenditures are nearly 50% greater for workers who report high levels of stress. There's also a growing body of evidence that shows that skipping breaks or periods of rest can lead to more stress and exhaustion.
- Time out gives you a chance to move.
We've all seen studies about the impact of sitting time (i.e. not moving) on all aspects of our health. But there's research that links sitting with many health concerns, including obesity. And there's this whole cluster of conditions that can be impacted by the amount of time we sit, our blood sugar levels, our cholesterol levels, our body weight. Too much sitting can increase the risk. When you take time out or you rest, it gives your body a chance to move.
- Divesting from your work on a regular basis reduces inflammation and the risk of heart disease.
We already know that work is stressful, and we also know that sitting time creates more health risks. But did you know that each one hour increase in sitting time is associated with an 18% increase in cardiovascular disease mortality risk? So how can you do less sitting?
- Getting away from work boosts your immune system.
Chronic stress depresses your immune system. Getting away from work and reducing stress boosts your immune system. Take advantage of the weekends and extended hours and get rest, sleep and exercise because it helps your immune system.
- You’ll sleep better during time off work.
Time off helps with sleep disrupting habits. I don't know about you, but a lot of times I check my cell phone before bed. Getting out of your routine helps get out of those habits.
- Your active time off adds years to your life.
Results from studies suggest that a higher amount of daily total sitting time associates with the mortality rate, particularly among inactive adults. Your active time adds years to your life.
Those first six things all have to do with physical transformation, which often is pretty easy to recognize. But now we're going to talk about mental and emotional transformation.
- Taking regular time away from work restores mental energy.
You know this just from your own experience, but science does support it.
- When you take time out for yourself, your creative juices flow better.
Are you creative? You need time out to get that creative thinking going. Thinking time is one of the crucial benefits of stepping back. Whether you use the time to reflect or journal, this time off helps you be more creative and allows you to create more solutions and breakthroughs in your life and in your work.
9. You’re more productive when you take time out from work.
Studies have shown that working more hours means less productivity. The most productive companies are in Europe, Germany, and France, and they mandate that there are 30 days or more of vacation every year. In the U.S., there's no law about time off. That is reflected in our statistic of being the third most productive country. Only about 25% of Americans take their full allotment of vacation time. So, take your vacation time and you’ll do number ten.
- You focus better at work if you take weekly rejuvenation time.
All work and no play dramatically reduces your focus as well as your productivity. Conversely, regular time off improves it. So be sure you opt for restorative breaks.
- Time off improves your short-term memory.
We all know the stereotype of seniors forgetting where they're going or where they put their keys, but did you know that its not just a sign of aging, it's a sign of how you are not managing your time? It can even affect a middle-aged person. So, separate from work and enjoy things. And you'll probably remember where your keys are.
- With regular time away from work, you’ll find more joy in your work.
One of the first recommendations many consultants give to help restore your passion in your work is to call a timeout. The removal allows you to take space, regroup and renew.
Small Ways to Carve Out Time for Self Care
First look for ways to take tiny breaks. It can be something as simple as a cup of tea, reading through a book or grabbing a magazine. Doing something for you – even for just a few minutes that can even maybe be done in the presence of a child or a family member, has benefits. If you could create a menu of options for ten minute self-care breaks, what would be on your menu?
Parenting is hard work. Getting all the work done in 40 hours a week is challenging. Cut yourself some slack. Another element to look at is how can you add a layer of fun to anything? If you're making dinner, can you add a layer of fun by listening to music? If you're grocery shopping, can you add a layer of fun putting your headphones in and listening to a podcast, or can you add a layer of fun by stopping somewhere along the way home from the grocery store and seeing something different?
Which brings me to an important point: don't be afraid to ask for help. I think asking for help is critical. We don't always have all the extra sets of hands around, but if you can ask for help, it's a way to give yourself a break. What about if you traded? Do someone a favor and they'll do you a favor. You don't have to feel like you're being totally submerged by all your roles in life as a business owner or employee or parent or daughter. And when you take care of yourself, your physical, mental, and emotional health, the more likely you are to be successful professionally and personally.
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