A Change Is As Good As A Rest

repose-1911-john-singer-sargent-1856-1925-us-public-domain-artist-life80-yrsphtot-reprod-of-artcommons-wikimedia-org
Repose (1911). John Singer Sargent

I had a great vacation, writing 4 chapters and cleaning up several others, and went back to school with lots of enthusiasm. Two weeks in, as the initial flurry of schedules and computer upgrades dies down, I suddenly felt I couldn’t move a muscle.

At first, I was baffled and a little panicked. I couldn’t burn out right before the semester starts. Then I realized the obvious – I just wrote 40+ pages in 2 weeks. Of course, I’m tired!

This is a problem with a simple solution. But oddly enough, not doing something is a challenge for a lot of us. Chalk it up to Puritan work ethic, American busyness, or just too much caffeine, many of us can’t help but feel we should be doing something 24/7!

It’s an unreal expectation. In spite of the social pressure, you need to know how to take a break so you can refresh and revive. So here’s what I remind myself of when I find I’m beating me up for naturally slowing down:

1) Take a break. If you’re tired, you need to stop what you’re doing. You may need to nothing for a while or do something different, but you need to stop whatever project you’re working on, walk away from it, and come back later. I don’t have to revise my book or schedules immediately after creating them. In fact, I’ll spot necessary changes better if I come back tomorrow!

2) Get some rest. Make sure you’re not delaying your bedtime by checking one more item or doing one more chore. Actually turn the lights off and go to sleep. And yes, this means not staying up late reading a book! All those new releases are killing me!

3) Make sure you’re not hungry. Sometimes what we think is fatigue is actually hunger, especially this time of year when so many start New Year’s diets. The trick is to eat real food, not junk food or fast food. Sugar will just send your energy levels on a roller coaster ride. Get some protein and vegetables instead.

4) Turn the TV off – and the Internet and the phone and whatever else is claiming your time and attention. Our bodies and minds naturally respond to the stimulus of sights and sounds, so give your brain a rest and disconnect. You won’t miss anything that you can’t catch up on in 24 hours. In fact, the late-breaking news may well be clearer with 24 hours of reflection!

5) Move around. This seems counter-intuitive, but one of the problems with writing and many jobs is that we sit too much. So get up, get moving, and get oxygen moving to those tired muscles! Simple movement is best, as you can injure yourself if you’re too tired, so I like to take a walk, clean the house, or work in the yard.

That’s my plan for the weekend. I need a break and to move around, so my goal is to get further along on composting for spring. Then I can get back to both writing and the 40 hour week because you can take a break and you’ll be much better off for it. What’s your strategy for recharging?

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