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Why You Should Take It Easy (Seriously)

by Elise Museles

relaxation and health

  • Scientists & researchers around the globe applaud the benefits.
  • Philosophers & spiritual leaders have been promoting it for centuries.
  • It revs up your metabolism, skyrockets your energy, and boosts your self-confidence.

And just a little more of it can transform your whole life – in a beautifully positive way.

Nope – it’s not a pill, powder, diet, or program.

It’s called: Relaxation. Down time. R & R. Taking a break.

Did I lose you there for a second? Are you suddenly feeling the urge to dive right back into your inbox or finish that project?

Trust me – I totally get it. But stay with me.

The truth about “busy-ness”

When was the last time you did nothing? I mean, looked at your calendar or to-do list and intentionally (gulp), left a blank white space.

There’s an old saying: “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” You didn’t need to convince me of the math: a full calendar + feeling overloaded = productive.

As my mentor Marc David sarcastically says, “Busy is the new cool.” And he’s got a point. Think about it. If you ask someone how they are doing, 9 times out of 10 they will answer, “I’m busy”.

I think “busy” has become the new normal.

Here’s the problem with that mindset: When every day orients solely around our calendars and to-do lists, we start to lose touch with the other crucial facets of our lives. We can gradually find ourselves out of tune with our relationships, health, and self-care routines.

Worst of all, it sets us up with a one-way ticket to burnout.

What’s a fast-lane driver to do? How do we wean ourselves off of this overload mentality, while still feeling productive?

So I decided to try an experiment.

I turned Sundays into my day of rest. I would leave the day absolutely open – no plans, no calls, no alarm set, nothing. I would wake up whenever, and go with the flow in rhythm with how the day unfolded.

And you know what? It was tough, and I was totally antsy at first! After years of waking up at the crack of dawn every single day, suddenly I had to force myself to try and sleep in!

Being totally unscheduled was so strange…and a little uncomfortable. I spent the morning and afternoon doing whatever I felt like doing: cooking, working out, spending time with my family. The shift was subtle but clear. I wasn’t feeling pressure to complete something or be mastered by that day’s next appointment.

Over time I noticed my rest days weren’t “a total waste”. The down time helped me rejuvenate, so I had even more energy and focus for everything going on during the week.

The reason doctors, religious leaders, and philosophers agree we all need time to rest is because it makes us stronger. Even professional athletes & marathon runners take a day off, in peak training mode, for this very reason.

Still not convinced?

Here are a few ways relaxation kicks up your whole quality of life:

  • Heightened Awareness

You might have a hard time focusing and being mindful at first but give yourself space to slow everything down. You’ll realize how much more time you have to savor all the subtle and amazing pleasures life has to offer.

The opportunity to truly enjoy the little things can shift your whole perspective and have a profound effect on your overall happiness. It’s a chance to tap into your sense of joy, sensuality, gentleness, and emotion. Imagine what your life would look like if you paid a bit more attention to your heart’s delight?

  • Healthier Body

Believe it or not, being constantly on the go does your body more of a disservice than a slice of chocolate cake. As an example, when you’re eating and rushing through a meal, your metabolism doesn’t work as efficiently, and you risk digestive upset.

Take the time to eat your meals in a calm, relaxed state. This reduces your release of cortisol – a hormone that can contribute to everything from weight problems to increased stress.

  • Your Intuition Amplified

With all your busy-ness, you may be missing out on some of the signals your body is sending. And the only way to truly tune in and access your body’s wisdom is to slow down, relax, and really listen. Slowing down also reminds you to place more value on what you want to do, versus what you think you should do.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to start practicing what religious leaders and health experts have promoted for centuries. Put a “day of rest” on the top of your to-do list this week.

Consider this your permission slip.

Question of the day: Do you believe in the rejuvenating power of rest? Are you a recovering busy-ness addict too? Share your comments & insights below.

10 Responses to Why You Should Take It Easy (Seriously)

  1. Jenny April 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Elise! This is one of my favorite posts on your whole blog! I love that you are doing original research and sharing not only this great idea, but also all the facts to back it up. I am a serious list maker and I agree, I think this Sunday relax day will help me get in touch with my personal bliss and make my relationships stronger. I am definitely going to try this. It is going to be hard because I associate Sundays with doing certain things that don’t get on my list during the week, but I know this is going to have a big impact. Same is true with a busy day, sometimes just stopping everything for a few minutes and taking a break can make the afternoon more productive. Thanks again for sharing all of your insights.

    • Elise April 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

      Jenny,
      I am so glad that this post resonated with you. It is definitely challenging when you are used to being “productive” all the time. I love your comment about taking breaks in the midst of a busy day as a quick way to rejuvenate. Thank you for sharing your insights!

  2. Raya April 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Elise,
    I too love being busy and your post spoke to me as well. Although my Saturday is not a work day.. I plan on doing happy things like taking a trip to the farmer’s market and going to my kid’s soccer game and maybe dancing at night… But things are not on as tight a schedule as they normally are and I certainly try to sleep in! Thanks for sharing and reminding us of how important it is to chill out!
    With love,
    Raya

    • Elise April 20, 2013 at 2:29 am #

      Raya~Sounds like a fun and relaxing day. It’s nice to hear that you are going to change the tone of your day by not being on such a tight schedule. Enjoy your down time tomorrow! Thank you for sharing.
      xo

  3. Saman April 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    It’s so funny how he says “busy is the new cool” because I literally am usually very very busy and then even when I’m not I take on this “I’m so busy” persona with friends and family so that I can always be forgiven for not returning calls or having time to socialize. I literally feel like it’s my way of being “too cool”… when really I’m just going through waves of being overwhelmed and then some downtime (barely). I think resting is so important – I notice that when I don’t do it for a while, I have this tendency of acting like I’m working, but not really accomplishing anything. Or when I zonk out and sleep forever, or am perpetually tired. This whole idea of rest is actually built into our society but I think very few of us take true advantage of it (SUNDAY… is it actually fun?) I always dreaded Sunday because it meant the next day was Monday and I spent all of my Sundays thinking about school the next day when I really just should have been PRESENT in the day. I will definitely take this coming Sunday off. Thanks for the reflection

    • Elise April 20, 2013 at 2:33 am #

      Saman! Thank you for all your insights. I am also such a planner, which means that I, too, am always thinking about the next thing or the next day…You hit the nail on the head about being PRESENT in the day. I hope you enjoy Sunday and have a little fun as well. xo

  4. manish m April 23, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Good advice but resting seems so much harder these days. Not because of lack of time but when I try to rest, it is difficult to do because I am so used to being busy that resting makes me feel like I am not doing something I need to be doing. But, I need to make time for it regardless!

  5. Manorama April 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    Elise,
    This is a wonderful article and very timely.
    I have begun your assignment and scheduled a day off!
    Thanks its lovely to read.
    Warmly,
    Manorama

  6. Sean May 9, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    Great article.

    I use to work 7 days a week. In away it became an addiction. I neglected my health and eventually it fell apart. I was out of action for 6 to 7 months. I no longer work on Sundays too. I don’t go near a computer or touch a phone. I use that precious time to connect with loved ones and nature. The funny thing is I’m working less but I’m far more productive. You’re right we all need time to recover.

  7. Kristine June 18, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    Nice to connect with you too!
    Kristine

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