Most animals rest during the hottest and coldest parts of the day. It’s how they conserve energy and focus their efforts on when they will be most effective. Lions in particular rest 20 hours a day, and they still manage to meet all their pride’s needs and stay at the top of the pyramid.
Society once saw leisure as a sign of affluence and people strove for a life of leisure. Now, working hardest appears to be the highest goal and busyness is a form of social currency.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the entire U.S. labor force has increased its aggregate weekly hours of work by 7% since March of 2006. (This figure would have been larger if not for the recession that caused many companies to cut back hourly employee work for a number of years.)
In 2016, Mayo Clinic Proceedings published a study that found less than 3 percent of Americans meet the basic qualifications for a “healthy lifestyle.” (The study was based on exercise, eating habits, body fat percentage and smoker/non-smoker.)
The American Health Journal ranked affluent countries’ health in 2013, and the U.S. came in LAST.
The math is simple. The more and harder we work, the more exhausted we become. The more exhausted we are, the less likely we are to exercise or take the time to shop for, and prepare, healthier meals. We crave comfort food to substitute for the rest we want, but don’t give ourselves.
The unhealthier we become, the harder it is to find motivation and energy to pull ourselves out. And thus a vicious cycle is born.
Why do we resist resting? Because we fear others will consider us lazy or that somehow the company will fail and it will be all our fault.
I can tell you right now that my clients who find resting difficult, who struggle with “turning off,” are some of the most driven, capable and brilliant people I have ever met. Anyone who knows them would not describe them as lazy. And if they rested frequently, they still wouldn’t be described as lazy. (And if they stopped working tomorrow, their respective companies would manage to stay afloat.)
If you personally find it hard to rest, you do not have a problem with laziness, you have a health risk. Tell me where I’m wrong.
Resting is the foundation to our health.
Have you ever seen an obese animal in the wild? Neither have I.
Do they work? Sure, their work is to find food, build shelters, and tend to their young or the rest of their community’s needs. It keeps them very busy.
Yet, they take time to rest, commune with each other and often play. It all works in balance.
I invite you to take a page out of the lion’s playbook and rest when you’re tired. Then, when you have energy again, exercise in your favorite form of play. Take time to consider what your body wants to eat, what it’s craving.
There will always be work to be done no matter how much you kill yourself to get it all done. What won’t always be there — if you ignore it — is your health, wellbeing, and fulfillment.
If you find it challenging to “turn off,” coaching can help. Let’s talk!