I used to think burnout wasn’t real. I often boasted of how little sleep I got or how many hours a day I could work. I was strong; everyone else was weak.
You know where this is going, right?
I’ll spare you the details of my “breakdown spiritual awakening”, as famed researcher and author, Brené Brown likes to call it, but needless to say I now understand what she was talking about. Instead, as I’ve emerged from that transformative period in my life, I’d rather focus on what I’ve learned.
The biggest lesson? You need to find time to chill. Here’s why.
1) Technology is Killing You
Okay, maybe not literally, but I have a sneaking suspicion it doesn’t sound like such an improbable claim to you. Technology is wonderful. We carry miniature computers in our pockets. Every answer we need is just a tap, swipe or voice prompt away.
However, there are also some negative consequences of using technology all the time. I knew I had to put my devices down when:
- I realized my reliance on Google was diminishing my memory
- My eyes and neck felt sore after long days in front of various screens
- I found myself obsessed with capturing the perfect social media post of a once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than actually living it
- I noticed my mood would dip after seeing friends going on fabulous vacations or with the perfect mates and seemingly no cares in the world
2) Breaks Can Actually Help You Become More Successful
While more hours can lead to more output, I always hit a point of diminishing returns. It’s that moment, usually late at night or after my Xth consecutive day of working, where I feel I’ve hit a wall or I’m spinning my wheels and not making any progress.
Here’s what happened when I took a break:
- I got to see family and friends which left me feeling supported, loved and energized
- I had time for hobbies which made me more interesting and creative
- I was able to catch up on sleep, and I felt less stressed, tired, irritable and anxious
In short, I was more productive. I was excited to get back to work and it showed. My work was even better after my time away from the office.
3) Your Health Depends on it
My first point may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but this one isn’t. I know that both my physical and mental health take a hit when I work too much. Physically, long hours mean less time for healthy meals and exercise. Mentally, I found that late nights and long weeks left me feeling like I was always failing, always a little bit behind. I never had time for the people who are most important to me, for real and genuine connection. The stress levels were unbearable.
Once I started to chill and make time for all the other wonderful things about life besides work, I became happier and healthier. It may sound like a stop-and-smell-the-roses-type cliché, but all work and no play really does make everyone a dull (and unhappy and unhealthy) boy/girl.
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