Summer used to be known for vacations and relaxing, but it has taken on a new form recently. Summer has become just another season that is packed full of activities. Children are encouraged to participate in summer sports leagues and camps. Adults continue to work long hours. Even the activities that should be fun, like going on vacation, parties, and barbecues, seem to be filled with planning that only adds to your to-do list.
People struggle with the idea of taking time off. We live in a society that is constantly working to improve, expand, and grow in business and in life. However, the fast-paced life that we are living will catch up with you eventually. Burnout will set in and none of your tasks will be getting your best.
The hidden key to being more productive
Society has taken pride in being "busy" for so long that we have begun to forget what balance looks like. Therefore, you see the phrase "work-life balance" showing up everywhere in the media. We push ourselves to a breaking point. Now people are tired and burnt out. Our mental health and productivity levels are suffering because of it.
However, the key to productivity is allowing yourself time to recharge. Studies have proven this in multiple ways. For example, the Draugiem Group, an umbrella organization of IT-related companies based in Latvia, measured the time and productivity of their employees. They found that the most productive employees took breaks. On average, they worked for 52 minutes and then took a 17-minute long break.
Other studies have been focused on the benefits of using vacation days from work or allowing yourself personal time to relax and recharge. They all show the same results—providing yourself time to rest and recharge is beneficial for you. Here are some ways to put this practice into your life this summer:
Designate time to unplug
Thanks to modern technology we are always connected to our social circles and our jobs. While this has some benefits, it is mostly hurting our mental health. Spend some time this summer being unplugged. Step away from technology and remember what life used to be like. Leave your phone at home when you head to the store. Read a book that you can hold in your hands and physically turn the pages. Meet a friend for coffee and look him or her in the eye as you talk instead of texting.
Use your vacation time
The majority of Americans don't take all of their allotted vacation time. The excuse that most people give for not using their time is that they fear that they will lose their job by using their time. It's true that there is a lack of job security in the world today, but it's also true that you need time to recharge. Your work will be a higher quality when you are recharged and not fighting exhaustion. Even if you don't have plans to travel this summer, take some time to enjoy a day off from your normal activities.
Be present in the moment
Establish boundaries for work and home life. When you are at work, focus on work and not on your personal situation. This is not the time to plan vacations, catch up with friends on social media, or look up recipes for dinner. When you are at home, do not constantly check your work email or think about the office. Give your attention to what you are doing in the moment. This same concept applies even if you aren't employed. Be present in the moment. Your downtime then begins to help you recharge because you are shutting off stress and enjoying your tasks.
There are numerous benefits to heading outside this summer. A University of Michigan study found that group nature walks were associated with significantly lower depression, less perceived stress, and enhanced mental well-being. Spending time outside in the sunshine provides you with Vitamin D from the sun, boosts your creativity, improves your sleep, and reduces levels of anxiety.
Why summer is the perfect time to recharge
People tend to be more productive in the summer, partly because there are more opportunities to recharge. In many locations around the country, people shut down over the winter. The weather is cold, and the days are shorter. Many people leave work when it's dark and head home to stay in for the night. In the summer people use that extra daylight to get out and enjoy themselves after a long day at work.
Summer is also an easier time for families with school-aged children to plan vacations since they are on break from school. If you are planning on taking an extended vacation to recharge this summer, make sure you do proper planning before you leave so you aren't coming back home to a mess of work waiting for you.
Take these steps to recharge this summer.
See more helpful articles:
Situational Stress vs. Chronic Stress: A Primer
15-Humorous Mental Health Quotes
Is Your Job Causing Your Depression?