Importance of taking a break from work and how to recharge mental and physical energy

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WORK.

It has existed throughout our human history for various reasons: Adam’s punishment from the god, then humans worked for survival; followed by maintaining their family, money making, finding one’s own passion and serving for others / words, etc. The type of work has evolved from hunting, farming, religious act, art and product making, mass production and service, digital work, etc.

Except 7-8 hours unconscious time of sleeping (if you are lucky and conscious enough to get that much), most people work more than half of our given time (be it at home or office). We work to live, achieve something meaningful and/or probably be happy. It is our nature and that’s how it has been.

However, our energy has a limit and we cannot keep using. Let’s see the mechanism of work and energy, and how to live happily without burnout.

Two types of energy: Mental et Physical

I believe there are two type of our energy, which function as batteryーM (Mental) and P (Physical)ーand the both are connected but not all the time dependent. For example, when we feel tired, it could be that we ran out of M energy, P energy, or both.

Let’s suppose that when you are very well, your M and P energy are nearly full, just like the below image.

Yeah!

But of course, the more you work, the more you get tired mentally and physically.

Sometimes, we are too tired to notice warning sign.

For some cases, it can be too late: Karô-shi (過労死), which is Japanese term, literally translated as “Overwork Death” (see the detail here).

Again, we work to LIVE, not to DIE, so nobody want to experience burnout.

That is why we have to be aware before it gets too late, and charge the energy by being creative, depending on the state and one’s preference.

Do you have your own method to recharge M and P?

Solutions: stop and rest for our right

Just like multi-tasks don’t exist (scientifically proven), we cannot keep working and charge our energy. In other words, to recharge M and P energy, it is necessary to stop working and take holidays, which seems to be so simple but many people including myself sometimes don’t do this. It is worth mentioning that the mentality on taking holidays differs from culture to culture: Asian people don’t tend to take long holiday by thinking too much about colleagues, thus sometimes end up not using all the entitled annual leaves. On the other hand, European people (e.g. French, Italian, Spanish) tend to fully use their holidays. I believe it is partly because European people have strong notion of “right”.

Taking holidays is our rights, and there is no way of abandoning that right (again, I am telling myself as a reminder). Our priority should be health and well-being which are not replacable (while work can be)

Specific activities to recharge

So once you submit leave request to your supervisor, what would be the activities to recharge M and P energy? Below are some of my examples, and there is no one-size-fit-all approach.

●Exercise: it is good for M energy but you might use P energy for this (which can be recovered by sleeping). According to the book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain“, the morning exercise estimates the brain and promotes learning.

●Trip: learning new culture and enjoying foods and sightseeing can recharge M energy, while if you move around as backpacker, it can be physically tiring (although it depends on the style of trip, about which I will explain the detail below).

●Rest : Tired of planing and moving? Just relax and rest (and drink alcohol outside, if you wish and your environment allows). This can be friendly for P energy (but for out-going person, M energy might not be fully charged).

●Meditation : it is scientifically proven method to recharge M energy (if you do too long, it might be physically tiring though). The good thing about this is, you don’t have to actually take annual leaves (you can participate in several days/week intensive meditation activity if you wish).

The idea is knowing what works for your in a given situation to maintain or recharge your M and P well-being. It is important to highlight that this will be cyclical and continuous, so we need to take care of us in a long run by thinkign about the green and yellow parts (well-being and creative ideas, respectively).

Digging in: three types of trips

Although I mentioned about a trip as one of recharging activities, depending on the style of trip, the result can vary. For example, let me compare 3 trips I made recently: 1. Canary Islands, 2. Morocco and 3 Senegal.

Canary Islands Morocco Senegal
Content Vacanse (tranquile) Vacance (bullet) Travail + petit vacances (bullet)
Mental (learning) X XXX XX
Physical(Rest) XXX X  X

For me, learning new things can refill my M energy (Morocco and Senegal). On the other hand, calm trip to Canary Islands was useful for P energy, as it taught me to slow down.

Again, we work to live, not vice versa (unfortunately it can be the case for more and more people).

The learning of this time

I learned that the we human beings work all the time, which might deplete  Mental and Physical energy, so we need to be mindful about our state and take necessary measure to recharge on our own way

Thank you for reading. If you like it, please don’t forget to subscribe. If you have any comment/question, please feel free to leave. Have a great learning!

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