Picture this. A nice long beach with white sands stretching infinitely. Blue and green seas blending with clear skies reaching each other at the horizon. Orange ball of flame peeping over the horizon as though playing peak-a-boo. Soft winds blowing your hair around while the white sands kiss your feet. Nights and days stretching into each other without the hassle of blazing alarms or annoying phone calls. Does that sound like paradise to you?
A typical day
My typical day begins at about 6. I make breakfast, get my children into their bus, prepare for dinner, prepare for a long drive to office, work my 8 hours, do stretch hours, drive back home again, prepare dinner, clean and by the time I hit the bed, I wish I had another 6 hours in a day. Take a break? nopes, can’t afford to..
This is not just my story. Infrastructure is scarce in big cities and the commute long. Competition forces you to live up to the expectations of others in the corporate world. And so, stretch hours seem to be the only choice when it comes to having a cutting edge over others. All this leaves you mentally and physically stressed out. Try and top that up with a tough project that works on tight deadlines and the only thing constant in your life is “stress”.
How does stress affect you?
Stress leads to lots of disorders. It not only disrupts your family life but also takes a toll on your health. Among other things, stress leads to:
• Heart disorders
• Stomach disorders
• Body aches etc
My mother admonishes me often. She says that she has more energy and the strength to resist body aches than me despite being double my age.
That makes me rethink the kind of lifestyle we have. But do we really have a choice? Given the time and age?
How to combat stress?
Last time when I had a Puja at home, the pandit came and asked me whether I do meditation everyday. I gave him a sheepish smile and told him that there were only 24 hours in a day!
My mother seems to think that Yoga is the best way to combat stress. My mother-in-law is a modern lady with open thoughts. She thinks, gymming is the best way to beat stress, keep fit and lose the flab! Way to go ladies, but can I borrow a couple of hours please?
I am sure you come across many more suggestions as well. Walking, meditation, yoga, aerobics, gymming, developing an art, a sport, a hobby etc etc. But these stress busters should not end up adding to the lack of time and increase our stress levels. So where does that leave us?
Taking a break – time-off or holiday
I was once faced with the most difficult project in hand. I had to work nearly 15 hours a day for that project. However, I realized that at the end of the day, my productivity fell by half. After burning out for a week, I decided to call it a day and so returned home to a much needed 9 hours of sleep. I realized that the next day, in my 9 hours, I accomplished more than I have ever accomplished with my 15 hours of work.
More often than not, we come across managers who are slave drivers. Most of them keep a tab on our coffee times, leisure hours, breathe behind our necks trying to ascertain that we do not use office time for social networking, scoff at holidays and more often than not look at us with a smirk on their face when we leave on time. Some may even add “Half a day or what?”.
In times like these, it pays to take a leaf off the books of Europeans. They really take vacations, unwind and return to work to work in the most efficient manner. And Germans are supposed to be the most technically sound people of the world!
There is this story that I once heard. A hardware engineer was taking a break in some exotic location. He noticed a firefly on a moonless night and found that the firefly lighted up everything around it. That stuck a great idea in him and he immediately incorporated a small light on top of his laptop screen that could be activated with the press of a button. It ensured that a person could comfortably work in the dark and the light would show the keypad clearly.
I wonder if this idea could be conceived sitting at one’s desk or spending time in meeting rooms!
There are many organizations, that insist on all employees take a break by utilizing their leave as opposed to accumulating them and encashing them. I think it must be safe to assume that they will be the most productive organizations.
The next time you think that you cannot take anymore, don’t despair, don’t feel guilty about it, and just take a break. A nice vacation can help you reconnect to your family, provide you the relaxation and also help you get more productive. It will also help you rekindle the fire in you and help you return to your work – rejuvenated. Like they say in an ad – Don’t believe me, try it!