Want More Vitality? Then Take Time Out

Medical Reviewer

When was the last time you can recall having time entirely for yourself? I don’t mean a lunch break, I mean a full day or longer? Staying switched on isn’t a good way to refresh and renew your energy reserves but unfortunately this is exactly how the pace of life affects most people.

People in my 50+ generation will remember a clear demarcation between work and leisure time. Evenings and weekends were mostly free and vacations were sacrosanct. Okay, people still get days off and vacations but the lines between work and free time are now very blurred. Work technology along with personal laptops and smartphones are partly to blame but along with technology is an increased expectation that people should be contactable. Some people even hold down more than one job so the notion of free time just doesn’t enter their heads.

You’ll have guessed by my tone that I’m not so keen on a way of life where it’s a struggle to find the off button. Our minds and bodies aren’t designed to sustain such a pace and the internal messages we receive that things aren’t as they should be can all too quickly be ignored. If we run hot for too long things start to happen. We cope less well, our moods chop and change, we increasingly feel drained of energy and a general state of unhappiness creeps in. Keep ignoring these signs and you’re on a fast track to depression.

Telling a young vibrant person that it’s important to rest is a bit like shouting into the wind. There are just too many things jostling for their attention. Even while the message is being conveyed the smart phone is vibrating, the wristwatch is bleeping, and the conditioning of the person is telling them to get involved in something. This person may want to know why they feel a bit depleted but they do they really want to hear the message? Curiously enough this can be the one time a sprained ankle can be an asset. It forces the person to restructure their lives in order to compensate. Now I’m not advocating self-injury but I am saying our bodies are meant to exist in a state of harmony. Exercise and activity is good for anxiety and depression, but rest is just as important.

If you’re a normally active person and you’re feeling a bit more lethargic then it’s just possible you need some time out. Sleep is restorative but it may not be sufficient. A part-charged battery is less effective than one fully charged: so top up your vitality by switching off. Take a day for yourself, but leave the laptop alone, switch off the smartphone, and move away from the rest of the tech. Go green for the day. Get outside, walk, sit by water, day-dream over a coffee, whatever. You’ll sleep better and you’ll feel revitalized as a result.

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