Much too often we underestimate the importance of taking a break.  We work long hours, rush home to engage in after-work activities: social, athletic or family commitments, we stay up too late, get little rest then get up and do it all over again the next day.  WHY do we do this to ourselves? Where is the down time, the time to just breath, relax and enjoy the stillness and peace in life?  If you have health and fitness goals, you better keep them on the back burner or you need to seriously consider incorporating some down time.

I work with many people who are totally stressed out.  I would love to give them a time out!

Some stress may be due to work habits: up at 6am to prepare for work, to the office/worksite for 10-14 hours then back home prepare for next day and get back to sleep around 12am. Why?

The rationales I’ve heard:

  • “I need to make money”
  • “I have a big project right now”
  • “My boss expects it of me”
  • “I have to beat the competition”

And the best one…

  • “It’s temporary”

My question is often the same. “Do you realize how much your work is negatively affecting your health?”

What they don’t know is that keeping this type of schedule for an extended period can have detrimental effects on their health.

  • Diminished patience, increased depression, decreased concentration, diminished productivity levels
  • Development of Insomnia
  • Development of Gastro Intestinal Disorders
  • Increased risk for Cardio Disorders and Stroke

Some people think they need to fill every second with activities for their children: hockey on Monday, swim on Tuesday and Thursday, soccer on Wednesday and Saturday….

The reasoning behind this:

  • Parents feel guilty about brief amount of time with children due to work schedule
  • Parents don’t know what to do with the children
  • They want their children to be successful, have fun, make friends

And the most difficult to combat…

  • Parents feel the world revolves around their child and they must do everything to make them happy

I would then ask “When do your children have down time?

What they may not realize is that they are just adding to their level of stress. They may also be creating the same non-stop, high stress state for their children, putting them at risk for a slew of negative consequences.

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Development of gastro intestinal disorders
  • Insomnia, depression, confusion, heightened state of worry
  • Development of irrational behaviors
  • Desire to quit
  • Drop in academic performance Fit for Learning/stress.html

Think about how all of this could affect your health and fitness goals. If your body is already defending itself from high levels of stress then your workouts may be compromised or they may even compound the problem.  Exercise at the appropriate level and for the appropriate duration can be quite beneficial to combat stress.  It is still important to take a Time Out!

No matter the reason behind your hectic schedule, you should consider modifying it.  Take a night off once a week. Claim a few minutes every day for yourself to engage in nothing, yes – nothing. Just sit and breath, maybe stretch or just be still.