I facilitated a mindfulness class recently and found myself having a conflicted internal conversation, a bit like Nina, from the TV series Offspring. I was watching myself put forward an argument to a bunch of police sergeants attending a professional development day, that I essentially wasn't convinced of myself. The essence of it was the idea that mindfulness training can be used to enhance work productivity. Now while this may be true - focussed attention is essential for good performance and productivity - I find myself asking if it is possible for a society to be any more productive? If so, at what cost?
"This is a call to arms - reclaim rejuvenation. Appreciate and embrace rest and relaxation. Linger at your leisure."
It seems to me that we are squeezing the life out of our work and letting it infiltrate our leisure and social time. Even the commute to work can now be used to make work calls or check your emails. I don't think we need to be furthering the debate on working more productively. I do think we need to talk more about the separation of work and leisure time, to dedicate more of our down time to good quality rest and rejuvenation.
The idea that work is virtuous and leisure is lazy is embedded in Australian culture. A hang up from our puritanical past. Somehow we have confused working harder and longer hours with success. Our material wealth has steadily increased and yet our levels of stress and mental illness continue to grow. We seem to be losing the art of leisure time. We spend less and less time participating in activities that lead to rest and rejuvenation of body and mind.
So this is a call to arms to reclaim rejuvenation. Appreciate and embrace rest and relaxation. Linger at your leisure. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Get enough sleep
Sleep is the bedrock of a rested body and mind. Without enough sleep our mental and physical capacities dwindle. It turns out this generation is chronically sleep deprived and the consequences impact our health, performance and pocket. It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours sleep a night on a consistent basis. Test your sleep status here.
2. Be compassionate
Let go of guilt. When you hear that voice telling you that "You should... Clean the dishes / go for a run / return that email" - let it pass by. Practice some self compassion and recognise when you need rest or downtime to rejuvenate. There is wisdom in learning how to discern when to work and when you need to relax and let go. Check out this self-compassion blog, including free meditation audio, by resident Mind Room psychologist Dr Natasha Odou
3. What rejuvenates you?
Explore what rejuvenates you - everyone is different. It may be that cooking is how you unwind, or playing golf, or walking the dog, listening to music or watching your favourite TV show. We all have different ways to rejuvenate our body and mind. Knowing what rejuvenates you is important, and accepting what does it for others is also. Your partner may prefer Play Station to gardening - it is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits all.
Also notice strategies that look like rejuvenation, but actually just make things worse long term. Alcohol is the number one "rejuvenation" technique of choice for a lot of people in Australia. There is nothing wrong with a drink or two... but when you end up feeling physically worse the next day or regretting something you said or did - that is not so rejuvenating.
This week I have committed to going to bed before 11pm (a minor miracle for a night owl like me). Right now I am off for a Nanna nap before getting dressed and going to a friends wedding this evening. Sunday I will go cycling and then have lunch with friends at Collingwood Children's Farm cafe. I will definitely call my sister for a chat and find out how my 9 year old nephews attempt to build a chicken coop are going. That's my idea of rejuvenation. What's yours?