Take a Water Break... Gets a Whole New Meaning

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

I’m writing to you this week from a little balcony overlooking twin ponds on the sweetest horse farm in Vass, NC. Now, I grew up in small-town America so heading out of the city and in the direction of open fields and Piggly Wigglys feels like going home. 

Honestly, if left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have stolen away for these last few days. But luckily one of my team members was savvy enough to look ahead in my calendar and said, “Ya know you could take some time off, right? Your schedule eases up this week.”

“No, actually, I hadn’t noticed this beacon of light in an otherwise full calendar – do I still have time to run off to the Caymans?”

Ha… not quite. What we ultimately decided was while a trip to the Caribbean was tempting, this gifted break was also a perfectly placed opportunity to walk, wander, rest and plan for the next 90 days. So off I went – to a sanctuary in the country about an hour and half from home.

Now, contrary to popular opinion, one of the biggest challenges I face as a thought leader on the topic of burnout is actually practicing what I preach. Like most of us, I see needs… and instinctively want to meet them! But that can easily turn into too many lunches, too many phone calls… bottom line: too many yeses.

And I know without a doubt that these next 90 days have the ingredients to create a perfect storm of overwork and overwhelm if I’m not careful. So I’m proactively setting boundaries, building in some margin, and testing my own theories on burnout recovery.

If you tuned in last week, you know we started talking about how our brain needs different stimulation if it’s burned out. Notice I said different stimulation… not no stimulation (which is the temptation). 

Generally, if we feel tired, we think to simply rest.

We feel stressed, so we think we need a break from work.

We feel sick of the everyday demands, so we think we need a change of location. 

But, often our brain actually needs a very specific type of input so it can stop ruminating and start recovering.

Since I’m at a farm looking at two gorgeous ponds, I want to introduce you to one of those inputs and the work of Dr. Nichols, author of “Blue Mind,” a revolutionary book on how being close to water provides unexpectedly profound rejuvenation to our burnout-prone psyches. The sound, sight and feel of being surrounded by water all delivers this unique sort of input or stimulation that helps us reset and bring our energy back into focus. 

So my advice today is to take a water break.

  • Move that meeting outside near a water fountain.
  • Take a walk by a lake over your lunch break, and let your eyes restfully focus on the sun dancing on the waves.
  • Heavy day? Get in the pool for a low-key swim.
  • Settle in with a book and let the sound of the water of a bubbling creek or ocean waves soothe your weary psyche.

On that note, the sun is about to set where I am and the light on this water is putting on a show! Stay hydrated!

 

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