If I had a dollar for every time I heard “I’m exhausted but feel like I barely got anything done” or- “I did a ton of things on my to-do list but there’s still more” I’d be pretty well off.
We think working hard nonstop equals productivity, but it’s a myth.
The Myth of Meritocracy (or what I call Meritocrazy in my book) shows itself in many ways to the professional, impacting both performance and wellbeing. Meritocracy is the notion that success is based on hard work. Our founding fathers instituted the American Dream and its promise of reward for dedication and tenacity.
American’s love to work.
Enter modern technology into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster as people no longer need to be in the office to work. We are now connected to work 24/7 due to those little super computers that fit in our pockets. And so, we find ourselves working on nights, on weekends, on vacations, and especially before we are trying to fall asleep… then feeling guilty when we aren’t working.
Then add the popularity of physical endurance sports, like marathons, CrossFit, and mud runs, and you’ve got professionals who are mentally and physically always on the go, always doing, always achieving something.
It’s no surprise “burn-out” is now included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon.
We’ve become a society that’s always on, with glorification of busy fueled by coffee, adrenaline, and the promise of the American Dream. But then when we accomplish our goals and have more money in the bank than we need- we set new goals, and the cycle starts all over again.
What’s the anecdote for the hamster on the hamster wheel?
To the Type-A professional, balance means mindfully managing our energy.
Essentially, we need to learn when and how to mindfully “hustle”
and when and how to consciously “rest.”
What can you do daily to increase your balance?
In our Resilience program we suggest taking a performance break and/or go for a 30-minute walk outside.
Yes, you can literally reset your nervous system and hormones in 30 minutes by simply taking a walk in a heavily wooded area. (It's cheaper and better for you than Starbucks!)
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we live 87% of our lives inside, and yet, scientific studies continue to demonstrate that contact with nature has significant benefits for our health. Time in natural environments has been shown to relieve stress, increase immune function, and improve cognitive performance.
When you breathe in the woods, you are inhaling a cocktail of bioactive substances called terpenes. Absorbed through our skin and lungs, terpenes have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumorigenic, neuroprotective activities, improve our immune system and endocrine system as well as lowering our cortisol levels. Research also suggests that volatile compounds called phytoncides emitted by trees may also play a key role in the health effects.
Numerous studies show that both exercising in forests and simply sitting looking at trees reduces blood pressure, stress-related hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) and creates anti-cancer proteins.
We are not built to handle constant fire drills and persistent stress. Performance breaks are a way to manage the stress so you can bounce back and appropriately respond to situations.
I explain this much more in our coaching and corporate programs, but a mid-day walk is the best thing you can do for your productivity and resilience.
I would say that this one tool is the key to success for over half of my coaching clients at any given time. (And it’s no wonder most leaders from my corporate clients report back that productivity skyrockets after my programs!)
Want to learn more ways to increase productivity and build resilience? Individuals can contact me for 1:1 Coaching or corporate clients can work with me through workshops or four-week training courses.