“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.”
Leonardo da Vinci
I was with a friend of mine Sunday who seemed really down and worn out. To some extent I think many of us exhibit the same symptoms because of tough economic challenges, job loss and many other things that weigh people down these days. It seems like we don’t hear as much about burnout these days, possibly because folks are just happy to have a job and don’t want to be seen as a whiner when so many people have lost so much, yet it exists.
In my opinion there has never been a time when giving yourself a break is more important. Some of you have heard me often say that “the best time to take a vacation is when you can’t.” What I am realizing now is that you don’t have to be employed to need a vacation, in fact you probably have never deserved one more than when you have been fighting an uphill battle week after week, month after month. If you can’t afford one, take one anyway; if you have too much to do, take one anyway; there just is no substitute for getting away and leaving your troubles aside for a little while. In my experience we cope better, think better and win more often if we have given ourselves a break.
So go to a play, drive to another city, see a movie, go sit along the river, just do something other than let the world beat you down and hold you back. The ever popular Gretchen Rubin recognizes the problem, here is what she offers to us all.
Ever since the subprime mortgage mess began, and with the current financial crisis, many people—like me—have felt distracted and upset by the gyrations in the economy. For some people, the anxiety is intense and relentless. If you’ve lost your job, or your job is at risk, or you’re entering the job market; if you’re planning to retire soon and your savings have taken a big hit; if you need to sell your house in a tough residential market – well, in those situations, you might find it hard to think about anything other than financial woes.
But try to give yourself a break from your worries, at least occasionally. By doing so, you’ll re-charge your battery, find it easier to stay calm and cheerful, find it easier to take action to remedy your situation — and you’ll sleep better. But this is easier said than done.
We all suffer from “negativity bias,” that is, we react to the bad more strongly and persistently than to the comparable good. Research shows one consequence of negativity bias is that when people’s thoughts wander, they tend to begin to brood. Anxious or angry thoughts capture our attention more effectively than happier thoughts.
So look for ways to pull your mind away from your worries onto positive topics. One great way is to watch a movie – preferably something funny! — or watch a favorite TV show. Don’t muddy the experience by trying to multi-task; you’re not going to get the benefit of taking a break from your own thoughts if you’re watching Trading Places while you pay bills or fold laundy. Give yourself a proper vacation: sit down and enjoy what you’re doing.
My favorite activity is reading, and when I really need “comfort food” for my mind, I read Victorian novels or children’s literature. I always re-read, too; when I’m upset, I want the comfort of knowing that I’ll love the book and that I won’t be upset by some unexpected plot twist.
Cooking, cleaning, playing with your kids, playing video games, playing basketball – different people find different solutions. If you can find an activity that gives you exercise, gets you outside, or brings you in contact with other people, that’s especially effective.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, schedule a breather for yourself. By cheering yourself up, you’ll make yourself feel better, and you’ll also equip yourself to deal more effectively with tough situations.
“If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.”
Arthur grabbed a large thermos and hurried to a nearby coffee shop. He held up the thermos, and the barista quickly came over to take his order.
"Is this big enough to hold six cups of coffee?" Arthur asked.
The coffee shop worker looked at the thermos, hesitated a few seconds, then finally replied, "Yeah. It looks like about six cups to me."
"Oh, good!" Arthur sighed in relief, "Then give me two regular, two black, and two decaf."
The human race is divided into two classes–those who go ahead and do something, and those who sit still and inquire, “Why wasn’t it done the other way?”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
A man was celebrating his 80th birthday and his 50th wedding anniversary.
A reported asked, "Sir, how do you account for looking so fit?"
"Well," the old-timer told him, "when we got married, my wife and I made an agreement that any time we saw an argument coming on, I would grab my hat and walk three times around the block. You’d be surprised what 50 years of outdoor exercise will do for your health!"
Meditation is not what you Think.
Bill has the typical observant wife. One evening after dinner, she handed him a bottle of ‘Rogaine’ hair restorer.
Bill told her while he was indeed starting to thin out some, he didn’t really think he needed hair restorer yet.
She said, "Oh. It’s not for you, it’s for your secretary, she seems to be losing quite a bit of her hair on your jacket."
One way to stop a run away horse is to bet on him.
During a recent publicity outing, Jennifer sneaked off to visit a fortune teller of some local repute. In a dark and hazy room, peering into a crystal ball, the mystic delivered grave news. "There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just be blunt: Prepare yourself to be a widow. Your husband will die a violent and horrible death this year."
Visibly shaken, Jennifer stared at the woman’s lined face, then at the single flickering candle, then down at her hands. She took a few deep breaths to compose herself. She simply had to know. She met the fortune teller’s gaze, steadied her voice, and asked her question: "Will I be acquitted?"
A foolish husband remarks to his wife: "Honey, you stick to the washin’, ironin’, cookin’, and scrubbin’. No wife of mine is gonna work.
She said: I was out walking with my then 4 year old daughter. She picked up something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I asked her not to do that.
"Why?" she asked.
I replied, "Because it’s been lying outside and is dirty and probably has germs." At this point, she looked at me with total admiration and said, "Wow ! How do you know all this stuff ? "
“Uh," I was thinking quickly, "Everyone knows this stuff, it’s on the Mommy test. You have to know it, or they don’t let you be a Mommy."
"Oh." she replied. We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was evidently pondering this new information.
“I get it! " she beamed. “Then if you flunk, you get to be the Daddy!"
“A cheerful frame of mind, reinforced by relaxation… is the medicine that puts all ghosts of fear on the run.”
George Matthew Adams
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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The editor is somewhat senile.
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