Last week, I took my first vacation in two years. I just did what I wanted and played around the house. I went to a movie in the middle of the week (gasp!), had lunch with a friend, hiked and took a day trip.
When the week began, I kept feeling pressure to DO something, anything, like email, write, work, etc. I’d feel the pressure surface, and would remind myself, “No, this is my vacation. I don’t have to do anything.” It was hard, but I knew it was important for me to be able to recharge.
It made me aware of how much pressure we put on ourselves to produce. Thinking time, creative space, mulling things over just aren’t valued in the U.S. culture. We push ourselves to the brink and keep pushing. This isn’t very healthy or helpful for creativity, solving problems or even productivity.
To be able to progress and formulate new ideas, we actually need downtime to do it. This is when our minds get their batteries charged and we get the juice to come up with new concepts.
It’s like being sleep deprived, which our culture also is. Without sleep to reset our bodies and process our experiences, we tend to get sick, confused and cranky. We don’t value something that is integral to our survival and thriving.
It’s interesting that looking productive is more important than actual efficiency. If we’re not pushing ourselves, then it’s assumed that we’re slackers. But the most inventive people are those who sit and look into thin air as they think. They do enjoyable things as their minds process and incubate ideas.
After exercise, we need to let muscles rest and rebuild. The same is true of our working lives. Taking time-off is necessary for not only mental health, but also physical health. It was hard, but I forced myself to take the time to give my brain a rest. When is your next time-out?
Copyright 2010 Linda Ann Stewart
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