The human brain accounts for two percent of our body weight yet consumes 20 percent of our energy. Given the intellectual nature of most work today, we use up a considerable amount of energy. This makes getting sufficient rest essential to keeping you and your team energized.
Great Leaders Understand the Value of Rest
A leader from the past who knew the value of rest was the U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR). Toward the end of most days, FDR held a social gathering where the only rule was that no one could talk politics. He cherished the time to relax and recharge. It revived his energy level and helped him maintain the optimism to lead America out of the Great Depression and through World War II.
Rest also played a part in stimulating FDR’s creativity. During a vacation that some members of the press criticized FDR for taking, the president conceived the Lend Lease program to provide military assets to Great Britain in its hour of need.
People in the creative professions, including writers, musicians and thought leaders, have long recognized the value of rest and relaxation to stimulate their creativity. Many of them retreat to quiet and relaxing settings to free themselves from the distractions of day-to-day life and release their creative energies.
Developing a Rest Routine
Consider developing a rest routine. Nearly every weekend I take at least one day off from doing anything that’s work related. Instead, I engage in leisure activities that rejuvenate me. These activities include spending time with my wife, Katie, and my group of male friends. Katie and I like to go to one of our favorite restaurants, watch movies at the theater, read the newspaper and books, watch college and professional football games, and/or explore museums or neighborhoods in nearby New York City. I see my guy friends at a men’s Bible study on Saturday mornings. These activities recharge my batteries.
During the week I fit time in for rest, too. Many days I walk and/or lift weights for 45 minutes to an hour, time that gives my mind rest and replenishes my energy. I also get some quiet time in each day for reflection. For me that includes time for prayer and reading.
If you frequently feel tired, consider getting a physical exam. Medical conditions including allergies, sleep disorders and the body’s inability to metabolize glucose can drain you of needed energy. From my own personal experience, I can attest that addressing these issues has improved my energy, enthusiasm and optimism.
Take time for vacation, too. During this holiday season, I encourage you to take time off to rest. In addition, reflect on whether you’re getting sufficient rest during the week and over weekends. If you’re responsible for leading others, encourage them to make time for rest, too. You’ll be surprised at the difference it can make in your work and life.
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Michael Lee Stallard, president and cofounder of Connection Culture Group, speaks, teaches and consults on leadership, organizational culture and employee engagement. He is the author of Connection Culture and Fired Up or Burned Out. Follow him on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.