Self Improvement #11: Take a Day Off
Take a day off.
You are not a robot.
From time to time step out of the rat race and have a day just for yourself.
Use that day to unplug and relax.
You can use that time to be alone, to completely unwind, but you can spend that time with friends and maybe host a party. If you are doing your day off with a partner, family, or friends, then delegate all the demanding organizing tasks to them.
How to take a day off?
It’s the day off. There will be other days when you don’t work but do the chores.
- Make a plan for the day off
- Let your family and friends know if needed
- Execute your plan in a relaxed manner
Of course, your day off may also include more physically or mentally demanding tasks. In this case, don’t overdo it. Running a new personal best marathon is not a good idea if you have to recuperate for several days. Helping a friend run a marathon at a slower pace than your usual running tempo is OK.
The science of the day off
GaryV tells you to work 24/7. Don’t! Here the science to back the day off:
- Take a day off to improve your short-term memory scientificamerican.com
- Brief diversions vastly improve focus, researchers find news.illinois.edu
- You are more productive when you take time off forbes.com
- Getting away from work boosts your immune system www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- A Day of Rest: 12 Scientific Reasons It Works inc.com
Do only the things you want to do
Make the plan for the day off the evening before. The plan allows you to avoid the pressure of thinking about what to do on your day off. The plan should not have concrete times only loosely spaced activities that you want to do on that day.
Plan for the day off so that you don’t have any chores and other people will not fill your day with their requests. It’s not the day off if you have to clean the house, visit relatives, wash your car, mow the lawn or other such activities. Except when you decide in advance to do those things as something that relaxes you.
Exerting yourself is OK if it’s something you want to do and it doesn’t leave a mark for the next day.
Do only the things you want to do and enjoy doing.
Slow down your pace
Activities for the day begin with waking up without an alarm clock. Take some time to get out of the bed. Slow down; there’s no rush. Eat breakfast, read or enjoy your favorite music with that.
If you want to go to a movie or a day spa or a museum or a ball game. Make sure to buffer your commute times by 50%. This ensures that there’s no rush and you will not be stressed out by having to arrive on time.
There is more to life than increasing its speed. ~~Mahatma Gandhi
Decide that whatever happens, you will not get mad. When someone is rude, just ignore it, distance yourself mentally and walk away. Letting it go will make the potentially stressful experience drift away and your day off will continue to be unhurried and relaxed.
After the day’s events, have a good dinner and indulge yourself. Try not to overeat though as this would lower your overall sense of wellbeing.
Go home, wind down, no rush, everything is alright, relaxed. Maybe a little bit of wine and a light snack. Indulge. Go to bed earlier than usual and decide to restart yourself the next day.
You can do all that with a partner, friend, family member, etc. The expectations of the other party may create undue mental stress.
Keep in mind that on that day it’s more about you and if you have a companion they should not put any unnecessary pressure on you.
No computer or other tech
Avoid computers, smartphones, and other devices. Turn off all notifications, put the phone in silent mode or better yet, use the airplane mode. You will call them back when you feel like it, maybe tomorrow. No social media.
In some cases, you may need to make an exception to this rule. For example, I have a challenge where I write at least 500 words every day. In this case, I take 30 minutes to an hour to write. The best time for this writing is after waking up, having breakfast, and relaxing a little bit. The willpower level is near its maximum, and the task will take relatively little time.
Getting back on track
As I mentioned earlier, before you go to sleep, decide to restart and go all in on the following day. Getting to sleep earlier than usual will give you the extra energy in the morning. More energy will make you really feel that the day off has remade you. The day off will lose its magic if you wake up next day tired.
If you do it “right,” it will be magic and thus might be a bit addictive. There’s a real danger of getting lazy and losing momentum if you take several days off in a row. Too much time off will make the getting back on track part harder and harder
So, don’t overdo it.
Now make a plan when will be your day off and what are you going to do with it.