Rest is undervalued in our society. We reward and sanction overwork and personal neglect. In fact, some would say that our modern way of life is at odds with the design of our bodies and brains.
At the heart of the problem is a fundamental conflict between the demands of our man-made civilization and the very design of the human brain and body… Our bodies were designed to hunt by day, sleep at night and never travel more than a few dozen miles from sunrise to sunset. Now we work and play at all hours, whisk off by jets to the far side of the globe, make life-or-death decisions or place orders on foreign stock exchanges in the wee hours of the morning. The pace of technological innovation is outstripping the ability of the human race to understand the consequences. We are machine-oriented in our thinking — focused on the optimization of technology and equipment — rather than human-centered — focused on the optimization of human alertness and performance (37).
The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life (39).
- Extremely long hours that interfere with normal recovery and rest patterns
- Night work that interferes with normal recovery and rest patterns
- Working without holidays or breaks
- High-pressure work without breaks
- Extremely demanding physical labor and continuously stressful work
It’s interesting to note the only country in the world where workers work routinely work more hours than the Japanese is right here in the United States.
- At the end of your workday, turn off your computer and do not restart it until next morning.
- Leave your iPhone in the car when you get home. If it’s not at hand, you won’t reach for it.
- Create explicit boundaries with your co-workers about when you will and will not return their emails.
- Find rituals that will allow you to unwind when you get home or before you go to bed (take a shower, read fiction, dim the lights)
- Don’t drink caffeine after lunch – elect decaf coffee or caffeine free soda
It’s a crazy world out there…how do you manage your pace of life?