Work, rest and play – how’s your life balance doing?

beach with pathIn the past few years I’ve been learning a lot about rest. Shockingly, until recent years I confess I didn’t really have a personal definition of what rest was, and have been on a journey to discover more about it.

Firstly, I discovered that rest is a vital skill for anyone with a big vision who wants to accomplish amazing things. If you don’t know how to lay it all down, and take time out, things get too intense. You stop taking care of yourself and some of your basic needs. Your longevity is severely affected.  I learned this the hard way going through a few years of experiencing burn out and my health suffering.  For years I heard about various people suffering burn out, but never really had too much sympathy or understanding of what it is like or why it happens, until it happened to me! It’s easy to understand why some people get burnt out, as they so obviously defy basic laws of nature by not getting enough sleep, working ridiculous hours, not eating healthy or exercising. You can identify people like that a mile off and understand how the stress of that type of life will affect their health. We are after all not bionic.

However, what I’ve learnt is that the majority of us don’t really know how to rest. What is rest anyway? I asked a nine year old this and she was very sure, I said; ‘is it when you spend time with your friends?’ ‘No’ she replied. I asked ‘Is it when you go out and play?’ ‘No she said. ‘Ok so what is it then?’ I said. ‘That’s easy she said, it’s when I am in my room just reading and chilling!’

What about you? Do you have such a clear definition of what rest means to you?  Do you remember the Mars bar advertisements; ‘a mars a day helps you work, rest and play’. Immediately when this nine year old gave me her answer I realized she very clearly has her work, rest and play categorized. She knows exactly what rest looks like for her. My bet is also that she knows exactly when she needs rest. Can you say the same? Do you know when you need rest and do you make sure you simply lie on your bed and read a book?

Maybe you rest lots but do you ‘play’?  On studying more about fatigue and burn out, I learnt that solutions to address fatigue include introducing more fun things in your life, things that you look forward to. In other words more ‘play’! This along with lots of sleep and rest helps your body recover from being driven to work. It helps reverse the effects of stress.

So, I started looking at how much ‘work’, ‘rest’ and ‘play’ I had in my life, with a particular goal in mind: to ensure I had enough of the rest and play categories going on.  Of course to do this you have to start deciding which activities go in each category. For me, rest is typically being on my own in an environment where I can think and be still. You could call this a form of meditation. What does rest look like for you?

I’m still exploring and finding out lots about what ‘play’ is for me. The process of putting more play into my life has been such a fun journey, discovering the things in life that simply make me happy other than work. Something that helped the process of injecting more fun into my life was setting a goal to do a fun thing every day. Try it! It will quite literally change your life and your thinking. It will release so much more energy and life to you.

Maybe you are building your own business, or are a busy mother, or have a stressful professional job, but I challenge you to look at a typical week or month and identify whether you have a healthy balance of work, rest and play. You are the best person to explore and decide what works best for your body and your personality!

How many people actually take the time to look at their schedule and commitments to work out a healthy life balance? Let me tell you, not many! Doing this is a vital key to our physical and emotional health and to our longevity. Stress has become one of the biggest killers of our age, it contributes to so many health problems. Maybe one of the best health tips you can follow is to spend a good amount of energy on rest and play!

That’s me, at ‘Go Ape’ – a high ropes obstacle course in England in the tree tops a few years back, trying a new fun thing