Let’s start out with a news flash: Stress is good for you!
Stress is your body’s natural reaction when you are faced with a pressure situation. Your body releases stress hormones called cortisol which functions to improve performance. When the adrenal glands release cortisol, your senses become heightened. You are more focused and your reaction time is faster.
A good example would be when you have a tight deadline to meet at work. You might need to burn the midnight lamp to get the job done right and on time.
Working under these conditions will create a stressful environment. Your body will respond by releasing cortisol to help you cope with the various stressors. You may notice that your level of concentration is higher. Cortisol has helped you accomplish the project on time without compromising the quality of work.
There are people who are able to thrive under pressure because they can manage the conditions that make the situation stressful. Thus, if you can manage your levels of stress at work, you should be fine.
However, prolonged levels of cortisol in your body are not good. In fact, it is not healthy as evidenced by the following negative effects:
- Decreased muscle mass
- Impaired cognition
- Poor quality of sleep
- Decreased bone density
- Increased/ irregular blood pressure
- Higher concentrations of abdominal fat
- Imbalances in blood sugar levels
These negative effects may lead to illnesses and diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. It will also result in premature aging.
Thus, while pushing yourself to overcome challenges and accomplish more tasks is admirable, in the long run it can have damaging consequences on your health. Instead of pushing harder, pull back, step on the brakes and think about getting more rest and relaxation.
7 Health Benefits Of Rest And Relaxation
Proponents of Behavioral Leadership, a discipline that advocates new results require new behavior, like to advise their clients to “Slow down in order to speed up”.
They believe that for top-level executives and entrepreneurs to succeed, it is important to be in the best state of mind, body, and spirit so they can perform to the best of their abilities.
If these top-level executives and entrepreneurs are chronically fatigued from stress, their sense of judgment will be impaired. Likewise, they will be more prone to illness and disease due to having a weakened immune system. Some may even acquire unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking and eating to cope up with stress.
As we mentioned, stress has been linked to several deadly diseases. Your achievements will not be worth it if you end up paying for it with your health.
If your mind and body are showing the effects of stress, slow down and consider taking some time off from work. One of the best remedies for stress is to simply get more rest and relaxation time in.
Here are a few of the health benefits of getting more rest and relaxation:
1. Keeps Your Heart Healthy –
Stress can lead to irregular heartbeat and this is not good for your heart. Activities that promote rest and relaxation such as taking naps or getting more sleep can help your heartbeat return to normal and keep your heart healthy.
2. Strengthens Your Immune System –
Studies conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University showed that stress doubles the risk of catching a cold.
The reason is that stress increases inflammation in the body which weakens the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. By getting more rest, you can help your immune system recover and become stronger.
3. Improves Cognition and Memory –
Studies on mice showed that stress can affect the function of the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for cognitive reasoning and memory.
If you’re suffering from a mental block, a simple 15 to 30- minute rest will suffice to get you up to speed. You will be able to articulate ideas much more clearly.
4. Lowers Risk of Stroke –
A study published in the 2011 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that work-related stress was responsible for 10% of strokes.
Instead of spending more time at work, why not head off to the gym and get some exercise? If you have children, you can use the time away from work to do healthy, family-bonding activities such as hiking or mountain climbing.
5. Prevents Onset of Depression –
Prolonged stress has been proven to kill brain cells and prevent the creation of new ones. This can lead to behaviors such as loss of appetite, and feelings of hopelessness and sadness. Cumulatively these conditions can develop into depression.
If your situation at work is making you depressed, get away from it all by taking a vacation. A short holiday will clear your mind and keep your body rested.
6. Helps You Maintain a Healthy Weight –
Stressors at work can develop triggers that lead to unhealthy habits. This is why many overworked people cannot wait to hit the bars for a few drinks or reach out for comfort food.
Cortisol can lower your metabolism which leads to higher accumulation of abdominal fat. Thus, when you are relaxed, your metabolism works more efficiently. You will also have less motivation to consume alcohol and unhealthy food.
7. Lowers Risk of Developing Cancer –
Although more studies need to be done, some research has shown a possible link between stress and certain cancers particularly breast cancer in women.
The bottom line is why take chances? It would be better to take a few days, even weeks away from work to get more rested and relaxed than potentially create conditions in the body that are ideal for developing cancer.
What Are The Best Ways To Rest And Relax?
The question may seem counter-intuitive considering that rest and relaxation are natural, learned examples of human behavior. However, many of us have forgotten how to rest and relax. We have been so caught up with our obligations to work that we have compromised our own abilities to get proper rest and proclivity to enjoy relaxing activities.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- On average, how many hours of sleep do you get every night?
- Do you often wake up listless and lacking in energy?
- When was the last time you exercised?
- When was the last time you and the spouse had a relaxing dinner?
- How long ago was your last vacation?
- What was the last book you read?
- When was the last movie you watched?
- Are you attuned to the activities of your children?
These are normal activities that help us relax and get well-rested. However, many of us have taken these activities for granted perhaps thinking we can do these things on another day.
In the meantime, the cumulative effect of stress has taken its toll on our health and inevitably in our relationship with family and friends.
Of course, we are not entirely to blame. Technology has made it easier and more convenient for us to get things done in life and work. Unfortunately, instead of allowing us more time away from work, it has created a situation where we can do more things in the same amount of time.
In an increasingly competitive environment, it becomes harder to allocate time for rest and relaxation. We must simply do more to stay ahead of the competition.
In the end, we may pay the ultimate price with our health and overall well-being.
Now that we have read about the destructive effects of prolonged stress on the body, it is important that we commit time for rest and relaxation.
The question is, what are the best ways to rest and relax? It is a matter of individual choice. The most important thing is to find time for it. You should not just allocate, but dedicate time in your schedule for activities that promote rest and relaxation.
At Mountaintop, we have come up with a list of things that you can do to help you get better rest or find relaxing activity:
- Get 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night – Times may have changed but the science behind the ideal hours of sleep has remained the same. You should make an effort to get 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep every night. Sleep is your body’s natural way of recharging itself. Poor quality sleep will make you feel restless, inattentive, and irritable the following day.
- Schedule Time in the Day for Exercise – Regular exercise strengthens your muscles, bones, and the immune system. It will also improve blood circulation and help your organs function better. Exercise also releases mood- enhancing endorphins that make you feel good and fight off depression.
- Spend More Time with the Family – Time lost is time you will never regain. This is especially true when it comes to family. As your children grow up, they will go through milestones in their lives. You should be part of it. Regular communication is also important to maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse.
- Read a Good Book – Sure you can read a book from a tablet. However, nothing feels better than having a trade paperback in your hands. The smell of paper goes well with your favorite cup of coffee. Regular reading not only improves comprehension but it is very relaxing. That is why the richest people in the world like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg make an effort to read to read at least 50 books every year.
- Cut Down on Social Media – Social media is a great source of information, a terrific platform for communication, and is an effective channel to market and promote your business. However, it can also be toxic. If you often find your newsfeed inundated with negative content, you should either clean it up or cut down the time spent on social media.
- Schedule a Vacation During the Year – Taking a one or two-week vacation will not negatively impact your business. Vacations are a great way to recharge and revitalize your mind, spirit, and body. It can also be educational especially if you visit new places and learn about their cultures and traditions.
- Outsource Work – If you want to find more time to rest and relax, outsource some of your work. Among the types of work you should outsource are administrative functions and those that do not fall under your core competence. For example, if you plan to run a digital marketing campaign, outsource it to an agency so you can allocate more time to tasks that will contribute directly to your business’ bottom-line.
Conclusion – Get Some Rest!
At Mountaintop, we get a lot of projects that have tight deadlines. Digital marketing campaigns have to be tightly monitored. Analytics on performance are routinely made and discussed with clients. We manage a high volume of client websites and regularly run updates and improvements to ensure high-level performance.
Still, despite the hectic schedule, the people that make up the Mountaintop team make it a point to find time for rest and relaxation.
Founder Josiah Bussing and his wife, Jeanna, are avid mountain climbers which explain the name of their company. For them, climbing mountains is not only a great form of exercise but also presents new challenges to overcome. It gives them the time to clear their minds so they can perform to the best of their abilities. Mountain climbing is also an activity they share with their future children.
What about you? What activities help you relax? Please feel free and share in the comments section below.
If you want to learn more about outsourcing; how it can improve productivity and allocate more time for rest and relaxation, please feel free to give us a call or an email. We will get back to you as soon as we can!