Ever wondered how the Labor Day holiday came about? Here’s a bite-sized history lesson:
Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.
Did you know that Americans in general work more than people in any other industrialized country? Personally, I think nonprofit professionals work even more and with fewer resources at their fingertips! As Americans we work longer days, take fewer vacations, and retire later in life (I plan to never retire – but what I do with my time and my “work” will dramatically shift – and that’s a topic for another blog).
So, in a work-driven culture, what are the benefits of taking a break?
A break from work increases…
- Mental health and well being
- Focus and attention, particularly for long term goals
- Healthy habits
- Learning and memory consolidation
You’re probably thinking, “That sounds great in theory, but in reality, there is no way I can make this happen.”
Here are some practical ways to recharge:
- Breaks. Take intermittent breaks throughout the day. Set a timer or an alarm and take time to consciously step away from your work and take a break. Even just 5-10 minutes 2-3 times a day makes a huge difference. Leave your phone behind. Do some stretching exercises (our body and mind need this!). Go outside if you can, and just notice your surroundings. Listen to the sounds. Give your eyes and your brain a much-needed rest. When you return to work, you will be refreshed and ready to be productive again.
- Weekends. Make sure that during your weekend (whatever your 2 days off are), you set aside work and focus on home, friends and family. Make every effort to not take work home with you. I work from home, and sometimes this can be a challenge. I still make an effort to not go into my office or open my computer for AT LEAST one day, if not both. I am much better for it come Monday. Do at least one fun or self-nurturing thing – a bike ride, a hike, bungee jumping, get a massage or a facial – whatever is meaningful to you. Be intentional and just do it.
- Vacation. TAKE ONE. EVERY YEAR. Even if it is a staycation, it is vital to our health and the health of our relationships to take an extended amount of time to recharge and relax.
As an added resource, here are a couple of great articles on the benefits of resting, relaxing and recharging.
To your health!
Operations Catalyst, The Stacey Wedding Group
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