How to Find the Perfect Balance Between Work and Rest
Every human being has a work to rest ratio that falls somewhere between the work and rest spectrum. On one end of the spectrum lies the workaholics who drive themselves to early heart and stress issues even before they reach age 40. They just do not know when to take a break. On the other end are the lethargic and lazy individuals who harm themselves with their lack of activity and focus in their lives.
Dylan Thomas, a Welsh poet, eloquently described the conundrum of work and rest. “He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest.” Resting your body is a key part of growing or recovering from illness, but the lack of activity can cause more harm than good. Similarly, work keeps the mind active, focused and boosts your self-esteem and morale, but overworking yourself when you should be resting can cause severe mental and physical health issues.
Before looking at how one can balance work and rest, let’s elaborate and comprehend upon the need for between the two main factors;
Since the dawn of time, work has been an important aspect in shaping our future and mankind’s ability to grow. Work has a significant impact on both the individual and the society that he or she is a part of. Quite simply put, for an individual, work is vital to establishing a personal and social identity and creating familial and social bonds. A daily routine of work during the day is very important for your growth and security. This applies to both, whether the job is labor intensive, for example, working on a farm, or even if it involves using your head, for example, most white collar jobs.
Work is important because it indirectly satisfies basic human needs such as social security and helps satisfy important needs such as shelter and food. Work allows you to earn for yourself and allows you to satisfy your wants and needs. Moreover, depending upon the nature of work, an individual is more attuned to the level of activity involved which eventually leads to better overall health. Once you check the boxes that satisfy your health, safety, and social needs, you will begin to feel more confident and happy in life.
Work also contributes to a society by promoting communal beliefs and increasing a sense of civic responsibility amongst its members. Working regularly lessens the burden on the government and the community who provide welfare to the unemployed. It promotes social and economic development, and allows society to become more organized as a collective unit.
In more recent times, the contrast between working individuals and less determined individuals can be seen in the class they belong to. Work has become a tool for discipline in recent times as well. Hard work and effort restores and individualizes respect for the norms and morals of society and grants them a sense of usefulness towards their community. In essence, you could say that these are the benefits of regular work to any individual and even any society.
There are, however, some drawbacks and negative elements that are associated with work or perhaps, overwork. “A little hard work never killed anyone.” We’ve all heard that phrase being used by our parents, teachers, bosses or even mentors. It is a motto that a lot of families, societies and countries follow. They believe that harder the job, or worker, the higher the reward. Nevertheless, this is not always true.
Taking on too much work or working when you should be resting can harm your mental and physical health in more ways than one. Studies have shown that people who work 11 or more hours per day have an increased risk of chronic and long-term depression. After 8 to 9 hours, work becomes monotonous and dampens the mood of the individual. Another harm comes from sitting in the same position for continuous hours in a day. This damaging effect is especially common in desk jobs such as tellers, clerks, accountants etc. The bad posture, as a result, can have adverse consequences on your spine and body and is linked to several diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, and arthritis. Working when you should be resting leads to a number of health problems such as insomnia, weight gain, and cardiovascular health problems. Finally, the brain is the most adversely affected by excessive work.
Overworking yourself cannot only lead to stress and depression, but also can even cause neurological problems such as dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
In conclusion, it is fairly self-evident that working in moderation is the key to establishing a healthy lifestyle. In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure that the work is meaningful to you and has a positive impact on the society as well.
Resting or sleeping is a natural process of any human being and is highly essential in maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle. They say that “idle minds are the devil’s workshop.” But rest does not refer to just sitting idly, doing nothing, nor does it only mean sleeping. Rest can involve any sort of calming and relaxing activity such as meditation, watching TV, reading your favorite book or even going for a walk. After a days’ worth of hard work, it is important for your body, as well as your mind, to replenish and recover. Think of it as taking your car to get serviced or shutting down your computer after work.
Your body expends energy at a great rate, hence, it is just as important to regain that energy with a healthy diet and dedicated some resting time. When your body rests even for a few minutes, it begins the recuperation and regeneration process on a cellular level. This is especially true in the case of meditation, and breathing exercises. Rest is also particularly important for training and overall fitness. After hitting the gym or going for a run, the actual muscle building and strengthening happens during the bodies rest period. When resting, your cells can move away from other functions and work on rebuilding and strengthening muscle tissue. In terms of work, taking small breaks and rests in between can actually help increase your productivity.
However, it is important to note there is an extreme side to resting as well, which in turn, has serious ramifications on an individual’s health. The first major side effect is that resting for too long can be addictive. That’s right, studies have shown that people who enjoy resting or oversleeping can become addicted to it. This, leads to major health problems that arrive from inactivity and chronic lethargy. Inactivity results in a lack of muscle development, weight gain, and other cardiovascular related health problems.
Chronic laziness and oversleeping can also damage your chances to enjoy a normal social life. Studies have shown that people who overslept regretted missing out on important events such as work parties, social gatherings and other important life events. Additionally, if lethargy becomes a chronic illness there is a higher chance of absenteeism in the workplace.
Lack of hard work, effort and consequently being rewarded for that effort will diminish your sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. Furthermore, being constantly lazy and not making an effort to work will undoubtedly make you a burden on your family, friends and community as well. People who don’t work and are unemployed, are usually provided welfare by the government and are indirectly supported by the community. This leads to a lack of progress within the community.
Balancing Work & Rest
The effects of overworking yourself and/or too much rest, may scare the average individual as it is shown to be ominous, even causinh a huge impact on a macro scale. However, no need to worry. Sleeping a few extra hours a week won’t cause the economy to collapse! The key to achieving a healthy balance is ensuring you attain the advantages of both routine work and daily rest. The following are some of the ways in which it is possible to balance work and rest.
Identify What You Want
It is important to identify what you want from your work and what you want from life. Every business has a mission statement, a vision statement, objectives, and goals. It may seem unrealistic but it actually works and is one of the reasons why businesses are successful. Similarly, you should identify or list down what your goal is from your work i.e. your aspirations, your target income, promotion, position etc. and what is your goal in life in general. For example, settle down and have a large family. Once you have listed these down you will be clear and motivated to work towards these goals. Successful people tend to set goals in their personal lives as well.
It may sound odd since setting goals is usually related to work and the office but it works well in your personal life as well. If you feel your work is not letting you achieve your personal goal it’s clear you are overworking yourself.
Over Commitment? Learn to Say ‘No’
This is a very common trait, especially with workers who want to please their bosses. Sometimes the reason you are overworking yourself is merely because you are afraid to simply say ‘No’. A lot of people don’t like to refuse favors or even casual friendly requests. There could be a number of reasons for doing so. However, it is important to make sure that you know your limitations and feel confident enough to complete the task within your capacities. If it is too much for you to handle, refusing is a better option than committing and not coming through later on. In addition, a sincere apology with the refusal goes a long way. As the saying goes; ‘The biggest mistake of my life is that I said yes, when I had to say no’.
Ask for Help
If you think you are spending too much of your time working, simply ask for help. Even Albert Einstein would seek his peers and students when working on a problem. Most people, especially in the corporate world, think asking for help is a sign of weakness and shows lack of effort. But these are just common myths, otherwise, we wouldn’t have mentors, supervisors, and guidance counselors. Outsourcing and delegating are common workplace and management practices which can basically relieve the workload and burden from you.
Asking for help is not just limited to your work. It is normal and even recommended to ask someone to help you out in your personal life as well. Some people have severe problems regarding sleep and rest and may require help from a friend or co-worker to maintain their lifestyle.
This applies to both rest and work related problems. Sometimes stress in your domestic and personal life is inadvertently caused by work and rest when the people you are close to do not understand what is going on in your life. The key is to talk and listen. If your work is becoming tough or piling up and you realize you are not spending enough time at home, simply tell your spouse or your kids. Sit with them, talk and confide in them. Not only will this help you de-stress, it will also provide you with a sense of support for the future.
If you feel you are being overly lazy and you are unable to take action upon it, again confide in your family and friends. They are there to support you. Keeping these channels of communication open will allow you to think clearly and not worry about problems for the future.
We have looked at the various impacts from too much work and even too much rest, needless to say, a balance between both is the key to a better lifestyle. However, there is one final action that is required to truly balance your life. That is, to be honest to yourself.
This is the final and probably the hardest part of balancing work and rest. You can lie to your colleagues and bosses, by calling in sick whenever you want. You can lie to your family and friends by overworking yourself. But it is impossible to lie to yourself nor should you try to. At the end of the day, you should ask yourself, “Am I happy?” If you can’t answer truthfully or if you are coming up with odd justifications about your work and personal life, you should probably re-evaluate your work and rest routine.
If you can honestly say you are where you want to be in life, that you are full of energy for family, friends and even some alone time, that you do not lead a stressful life, then you have truly achieved a balance between work and rest.