How taking time for yourself is essential to a balanced mind

We live in a world that encourages us to be “on” all the time. There’s another article to read, another client to sign, another report to file, and always, always, one more email to respond to. Especially now that so many of us are working remotely for the time being, it can be hard to turn off the switch and separate our work lives from our personal lives. Yet this is necessary, not just for your own health, but also for a successful career.

Burnout is a real thing. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve known high-powered executives who’ve seemed able to do it all, working 60-hour or 80-hour weeks, every week, without ever taking a vacation day…until they couldn’t do it anymore. They will quit or make a mistake or lose their passion for the work. That’s because this type of schedule is unsustainable for most people in the long-term. Overworking negatively impacts your physical and mental health, and eventually it will impact your work quality as well.

Taking time for yourself, or “me time,” is an important component of any successful career. It seems counterintuitive, but it’s true: taking time off actually leads to improved concentration and productivity. A little relaxing could be just what the doctor ordered! Literally. People who are overworked and overstressed have weakened immune systems, making them more susceptible to getting sick.

This flies in the face of the popular idea that working longer hours is necessary for success, but there is science to back me up. Consider a study done by Ohio University which found that a shorter workweek actually led to increased productivity. Meanwhile, the people who worked longer hours tended to accomplish the same work, or less, than their counterparts who had shorter workweeks. Researchers also found that workers were able to stay more focused by taking short breaks throughout the day.

Of course, you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to never get any work done! Just as too much work is bad for your health, too little can’t be good for you either. The important thing is to achieve a balance.

Now, you might be thinking, “Sure, this all sounds great – but I just have too much to do! Something always seems to come up whenever I want to take a break.” I’ve even fallen into this trap myself. I occasionally will think to myself, “I just don’t have the time to take a break or exercise today.” In reality, those times when you feel you’re “too busy” are exactly the times you should take a moment for yourself, even if it’s only 10 minutes to practice some guided meditation.

If this sounds like you, I have some advice: block out personal time for yourself on your calendar, just as you would block off a meeting. Whether you’re getting a massage, reading a good book, or just enjoying some fresh air, the important thing is you’re focusing on yourself and not on work.

To learn more about achieving a successful work-life balance, visit my website to schedule a consultation.