Are you doing all that you can do to improve your health and your life? Or are you sitting on the sidelines not fulfilling your full potential? Questions like that used to send me over the edge. There’s always more we can be doing to improve our lives. I know that in an average day, I don’t drink enough water, eat enough vegetables, and waste time that I could spend on more significant challenges in self-improvement.
However, lately I’ve found the benefit of taking a pause (not so much a break, but a brief pause) to gather myself. There is benefit in rest, so long as that doesn’t turn into all you’re doing.
During my first couple of Crossfit workouts, I found that I was totally out of breath. When I told my coach that I really hadn’t been able to breathe since the start of the workout, his response was, “You’ll get used to working out while out of breath.” I was a little surprised, as I thought his response would be, “Don’t worry, you’ll be able to breathe easily during workouts soon.” (I should point out that I don’t suffer from asthma, I was just badly out of shape.)
My new process during workouts now is a 10-count pause to give myself a chance to keep going. When I find that I just can’t breathe any longer, I’ll give myself until the count of 10 as a rest. Whether we’re doing a run or a regular workout, I just stop, count to ten, and then get back after it. A defined and permissible break is all I need to keep going.
Similarly, I just got back from a family vacation. Prior to the vacation, I was feeling very overwhelmed and just overloaded with all of my responsibilities. I found that my productivity was steadily dropping off as I tried to push my way through my daily activities. This is a sure-fire way to head to burnout.
The first couple of days of vacation, I got in a couple extra naps and took it easy. Those breaks, combined with a change of scenery, really did the trick. It only took a couple of days for me to unwind and be ready to go after it again. I again felt like eating better and my mind was filled with ways to improve myself and our office. I thought about ways to inspire patients to do more for themselves and to take charge of their health.
This time, however, I think I have a bit more empathy and understanding that some (probably all) of our patients may need to hit the pause button and take some things off their plate before they really go after things. Even doing the simple posture exercises we recommend can just be too much to handle when your daily feels filled to capacity. Learning if you should push or pause is a key element in sustaining your health improvement efforts.