If you are anything like me, you feel an almost magnetic pull to be a workaholic. I am constantly working through my to do list, adding to my to do list, working on my to do list, adding to my to do list…. you get the point. Many nights, my husband has to say “it is time for bed, Karmen” because he knows that I would just work all night. Regardless of how completely exhausted I might be.
The honest truth is that this is really bad for your brain. A ton of scientific research indicates that pushing yourself too hard without allowing time for rest causes your brain to push back. You will start to notice that tasks you should be able to complete easily will be ridiculously difficult. You aren’t as creative and don’t have as many fantastic ideas. These are signs that you need to give your brain, and yourself, some time to relax. These are some of my best tricks for stopping the workaholic cycle:
- Take breaks. I like to set mini-goals for myself then give myself permission to step away. Something like “once I finish this graphic, I’m going for a walk”. Some experts advocate for working for 25 minutes then taking a five minute break.
- Nap. I’m not really a big napper because I hate the non-productive time (I’m a recovering workaholic, ya’ll) but it is sometimes nice to insert some time in my day to just lay on the couch or bed and close my eyes for a few minutes. I don’t typically fall asleep but the break is tremendously helpful.
- Vacation. I doubt that I need to make a strong case for taking vacations but in case you need extra motivation, you should know that research shows that vacationing has serious brain benefits. The catch? These benefits dissipate quickly and should be replenished often. Darn, huh?
- Take a day off. I try to schedule a weekend day when I completely disconnect and only spend time with my family. Not only is this critical for my brain and creativity but is obviously important for my family too.