Have you ever wondered why success seems so freakin elusive?
You’re putting in the super loooong hours, have the never-ending to-do list, do the power-planning brainstorming sessions, set goals with action steps, but you just can’t catch a break.
Read on, let me tell you my story.
A short while ago, I was sitting at home on the couch in a serious state of meltdown. I mean I was burnt out, stressed out and in a serious state of overwhelm. I’m a
major bit of a workaholic. No, seriously. If I’m not working on my business, I’m working in the kitchen, working on my knowledge base, working on my house … you catch my drift, right? So as I was sitting there on the couch (chewing my fingernails to the knuckle) nearly crippled by anxiety, all whilst thinking happy thoughts about the bills, the kids, my business and so on, I realised something: I just wasn’t winning at anything. My business was still where it was, the house was still a mess, bills were still piling up and I still hadn’t achieved any of the goals that I had set for my business or myself this year.
Something had to change – stat.
I promptly decided to offload some of my issues onto a confidante of mine hoping to get some real outsider perspective on my current situation. When I was done, I waited expectantly for some deep analysis followed by age-old pearls of wisdom. Do you know what I got instead? “You need to Rest.”. I was freaking gobsmacked. Like, okay, seriously? Rest? Do you know how much I need to do and you want me to rest? Pfffft riiiighttt. Thank you and have a good night. After that conversation ended I sat around moping for a short longer when it hit me: Maybe this person was onto something! Maybe, just maybe, I did need a day off. A day off from absolutely everything. At that point in my life I was willing to try anything (within my belief set) to get my current situation to change, so a day off sounded like a pretty painless solution.
There’s a reason why God took a day off after He created the earth.
That one day off — I mean really just relaxing with a good book and an ice-cold refreshment, spent switched completely off from all things work did absolute wonders for me. Chicken.soup.for.the.soul. In just one week I had actually managed to complete items (to my extremely high levels of perfectionism) that I had been busy with for months. I planned some really kick-butt creative brainstorming sessions which birthed new marketing strategies. These strategies generated new leads and conversions (I know right?!). I actually set new goals and drafted action plans for these goals that I was super stoked to get started on. My kids were happier (as home wasn’t tense anymore), money was coming in the bank … trust me my Friend, I couldn’t make this stuff up even if I tried.
Why is rest so critical to our emotional and professional success?
Other than the obvious perks like getting time off to kick your feet up and chill, or do something you really enjoy, there are some really important medical benefits that lowering stress levels (through rest) can initiate.
- Improves memory: Studies have shown that something as small and simple as resting with your eyes closed in a dark room for 10 minutes can drastically improve your mind’s ability to retain new information.
- Assists with maintaining a healthy weight: Some people comfort eat in times of stress. While all that tasty food may provide you with a quick feel-good fix, what’s not so “quick” is getting rid of that spare tire (formerly known as your waistline) that you get after eating all that junk food, you feel me? And man, that spare tire is not the only nasty side-effect in this point. During times of stress, our bodies raise the levels of the hormone cortisol. This hormone raises our blood sugar and causes our fat cells to grow in size. Yikes … !
- Reduces your risk of heart disease: Studies have linked high levels of stress to blood clots which increase your chances of heart attacks, as well as persistently unhealthy elevated levels of adrenaline which may lead to heart disease. Another reason to stress less, eh?
- Boosts your immune system. Long-term chronic stress can have a devastating effect on your immune system. Not only does it create chronic inflammatory conditions, but a lowered immune system leaves you more susceptible to catching pesky common colds and flu’s.
Other benefits of rest include:
- A good rest can leave you feeling absolutely re-energised, refreshed and ready to take on the world;
- Boosts your capacity for creative and out-of-the-box thinking;
- Boosts your morale and overall mood … like singing-in-the-shower-with-a-smile-on-your-face kind of boost;
- Deepens your relationships. By allowing yourself time-out to rest, it provides you with the opportunity to engage with loved ones and friends. This special, quality time can only deepen and strengthen the relationships that we have with people that are meant to be priorities in our lives.
So what I want you to do for me, oh Bundled-Up-Ball-Of-Nerves:
Schedule at least 1 rest day out of the week to unwind. Oh stop it, you can totally learn to unwind, really. If I can do it, you can too.
Try these simple relaxation techniques to get the most out of your rest days:
- Prayer. This is my top go-to technique so it’s number 1 on the list. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. I know that in my deepest, darkest and most stressed out moments in life, God has pulled me through it all by simply engaging in conversation with Him and having Faith that He will see me through it.
- Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts may help you deal with your stress better. I have found that writing down my thoughts at times allows me to see my challenge from a different perspective. Having a fresh perspective on what may have seemed like a hopeless situation can assist you with actually coming up with some solutions to those issues. Guess what this does for your self-esteem? Oh yes, it gives it a major boost!
- Cut the technology cord. Try picking up a book, playing a board game, drawing with the kids … YES. I’m talking about going tech cold turkey here and actually engaging in your surroundings.
- Exercise. Exercise increases levels of epinephrine, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine which not only have a positive effect on energy levels but leave you feeling fantastic after a workout. If I need to detach myself from a particularly stressful day, going for a run really helps me to achieve this.
- Get in touch with nature. Studies focusing on environmental psychology conclude that humans have an “instinctive biophilia”. This is a deeply embedded instinct to seek out connections with nature. Positive side effects of getting in touch with nature include reduced stress, improved mood and improved cognitive performance (perception, reasoning skills, etc), so hunt down your local botanical gardens or park, go for a hike, take a trip to the beach … whatever! Just get up and go!
- Music doth soothe the savage beast. While slow, quiet, classical music has long been cited as an extremely effective relaxation tool, any calm music will do. Let’s face it, classical music may irritate some people more than it relaxes them, so go with what feels right for you.
Now you may be shaking your head in disbelief, thinking that rest really can’t have that much of an impact on your success, but do you know what? Don’t take my word for it. I challenge you today to make a decision to start a living a more stress-free life. Start small by having a forced rest day once a week and start seeing the results speak for themselves.
You’ve got nothing to lose but the stress.
Ciao for now,