by Chris Hillman
Studies estimate that as many as a quarter of American adults may be workaholics. Are you among them? You probably recognize the symptoms: keeping long hours, work problems affecting your sleep, spending leisure time responding to emails. When you’re ready to abandon those twice-annual 3 day weekend “vacations” spent with your nose buried in a smartphone and learn to really relax, you may have to put some effort into it. Lucky for you, you’re no stranger to hard work.
Much has been made of the effort of “unplugging” in the information age. There are more glowing screens within our arms’ reach than ever, and these devices feel increasingly essential to not only everyday, but every moment use. Those feelings, however, are only an illusion. When we put down our devices, life goes on quite shockingly unaffected. When you’re away from work, put the phone down. Close the laptop. Lock up the tablet. And then turn them all off. Prepare your out-of-office responses and establish to coworkers and other colleagues that yours will be an email-free vacation. They may even respect (and envy) you for it. When you feel the familiar urge to reach for a device, have a little perspective and think about the days when everyone in the world functioned quite well without computers, cell phones, and internet.
If you’re ready to separate your leisure time from your work time, you must change your mindset entirely. Recognize that work problems belong at work, and usher them away from your thoughts. Work on your mindfulness: the practice of being conscious of the present moment and your place in it. Eastern rooted practices like yoga and meditation do wonders for realigning your thoughts and your body into a mindful state. Plus, yoga will help counteract all those detrimental effects on your body that are triggered by stress. If you’re unable or unwilling to practice yoga or meditation, get mindful by closing your eyes and taking ten long, deep breaths. With each exhale, imagine work, stress, and responsibility washing away. Focus instead on your immediate environment: your body position, your senses, and your immediate surroundings.
When you plan your vacation, plan to earn your relaxation with physical activity. Exercise releases stress and focuses your mind. Combine your physical activity with an outdoor setting. Hiking is the perfect relaxation tool and work distracter. Anyone can do it, and there are lovely places to hike just about anywhere you go. Return to your mindfulness while you’re in nature: take in the sights, smells, and textures of nature. When work creeps into your thoughts, find something in your surroundings to investigate. A new trail, a bird’s nest, or even a cloud. With a little practice and conscious effort, you will forget about the office in your mind, relax, and live in the moment.
Sources: LifeHacker.com; WSJ