In this article, I discuss the importance of scheduling rest & relaxation into your life on a daily, weekly and longer-term basis.
I always look forward to the Christmas holiday season. One reason is that I get a chance to spend time with family members who I don’t get to see during much of the year. A second reason is that it gives me time off to recharge my physical and emotional batteries by taking two weeks off from work. Although I love the work I do as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, setting aside time for rest and relaxation is important in order for me to maintain my enjoyment of work and to perform at the high level which my clients expect of me in helping them.
Now that the holiday season is ending, I thought it would be helpful for this article to focus on the importance of setting aside time for rest and relaxation in order to maintain enjoyment of and effectiveness at work, school and other task-oriented activities. I will discuss the value of incorporating R & R into your schedule on a daily, weekly and longer-term basis.
Three elements of R & R
The first element of R & R is taking rest periods during the day. This includes taking breaks at work, school and during other task-oriented activities. For example, if you work a ‘9 to 5’ shift it would make sense to take 15-minute breaks in the mid-morning and mid-afternoon along with a longer break of an hour at lunch time. R & R on a daily basis also entails engaging in relaxing activities after your work/school shift has ended followed by a good night’s sleep.
The second element of R & R involves taking two or more consecutive days off from work, school, etc. to rejuvenate on an approximately weekly basis (this time frame may be adjusted if two or more consecutive days of weekly R & R does not work with your schedule). Having more time off at the end of each week allows you to recover so that you are reenergized to face the next task-focused week with enthusiasm as you return to work or school in a rested state conducive to performing at your optimal level.
The third element of R & R involves giving yourself an extended rest period after a long stretch of work/school, etc. This ‘hyper-recharging’ can last from one week to one or more months. The duration and timing of this break may be dictated by your situation such as when you have natural breaks in your school year or are allocated a set amount of vacation time by your employer. Being self-employed offers you more choice in when this extended R & R period should occur and how long it should last.
My personal view is that having a break of at least one to two weeks every six months is a reasonable target to aim for. Taking extended breaks of this type should allow you to return to your task-oriented activities with the energy and enthusiasm which will foster continued enjoyment of these activities along with performing them to the best of your abilities.
How to spend your R & R time
Any relaxing and pleasurable activities which take your focus off tasks and problems will allow you to reap the benefits of R & R time. Because daily, weekly and longer term R & R vary in time available for their respective ‘recharging’ activities, schedule such activities based on this consideration. For example, you might have time to read a book or listen to music on your daily R & R breaks at work whereas going to dinner and a movie might be better suited to your longer weekly R & R break and traveling on a vacation would be feasible on your even longer every-few-months R & R break.
Don’t be perfectionistic about R & R
Even though it is important to aim for R & R on the three time levels mentioned, there will be times when you will fall short of meeting these goals. This is normal so don’t let it lead you to give up on trying to get more R & R into your life on a daily, weekly and longer term basis.
The attitude you should adopt is that if you set R & R goals, this will make it more likely you engage in these three kinds of R & R compared to if you do not set these goals. So if you don’t completely meet your R & R targets on a given occasion, you’re still ahead of the game in enjoying the benefits of the rejuvenating effects of regular R & R.
May you make rest and relaxation part of your routine,