You’ve had a long day and there’s another long day scheduled for tomorrow? Its ‘that season’ again, whether its tax season, flu season, annual review time we’re talking stress! What to do? How do you survive as a Thriver? It might even be suggested a Thriver does more than survive but can use these seasons to launch into a new round of exciting opportunities.

The work you do is draining at times; it is the nature of the beast. Making sure you have the energy to keep going is vital not only to your short-term success but ultimately to your ability to sustain your practice and life for the long run. No one goes into independent practice thinking it will be a few months or a couple of years ~ too much is invested for that!

Learning how and when to take the time to recharge yourself is a skill, not some special talent that is held by a few privileged individuals!

Here’s some of the science behind the notion of re-charging. While we are busy working on work it can be difficult for our brains to find new or innovative solutions to ‘age old’ problems we are challenged with. In shifting our focus to a new activity we allow our brains to sort out the clutter and with luck make connections which had previously been hidden from us in our daily activities.

From the New York Times on August 24, 2010 we learn this, “At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have found that when rats have a new experience, like exploring an unfamiliar area, their brains show new patterns of activity. But only when the rats take a break from their exploration do they process those patterns in a way that seems to create a persistent memory of the experience.

The researchers suspect that the findings also apply to how humans learn.

“Almost certainly, downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories,” said Loren Frank, assistant professor in the department of physiology at the university, where he specializes in learning and memory. He said he believed that when the brain was constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.”” Not that we like to see ourselves to be similar to rats, the truth is our brain isn’t too different.

Last month we talked about taking vacations. Talk about a way to give your brain a break! How great is that? I often hear excuses for how or why a vacation ‘won’t work’ and sometimes that’s true. Ask a CPA to go away for a week or two prior to April 15th and you’ll get a pretty funny face from them or an SLP to take a vacation just as annual reviews are due for their students and you’ll hear some interesting sounds! But not taking a vacation out of fear that another practitioner will ‘get’ a client rather than you is just plain short sighted; you won’t be able to keep that client if you can’t focus on their unique needs! And yes, I’ve heard that excuse from practitioners!

Don’t have time for a vacation but still need to recharge? A long weekend, even one spent at home, is a good start. A day spent as a tourist in your own hometown is a quick, local way to break your own routines and allow yourself to see the environment around you in a new way.

Have some extra time or resources? A weekend away to a location where you can spend the night at a local hotel or inn is a nice way to turn off the work and try new activities. There’s a place in Vermont where you can take a glass blowing class for an afternoon! Sounds nifty to me ~ how about you? Is there someplace you can get to easily and have some down time?

We don’t have always have a weekend or even a day so what to do? In no particular order here are some suggestions to get you started on figuring out what works for you to re-charge:

Take a walk/get to the gym/go for a swim

Sign up to take a class on a new topic

Go outside to walk, plant a tree or pull some weeds in the garden

Spend time with your pet. Freud once said, “no time spent with cat is wasted time.” I wonder if Freud ever walked a dog? That’s pretty great too!

Catch up on non-work related reading

Unplug even further and turn off your phone for an afternoon while you’re reading

Cook/bake/BBQ for something fun and different

Take the time to connect with a friend either by phone or better yet over a cup of coffee

Bang out a new tune on the keyboard

Spend time with a child to remember how to see the world from a child’s point of view

Take a drive, ride your bike, get on your skates

Volunteer your time for a few hours

What’s the fastest way to re-charge? Meditation has been shown to be one of the most effective and longest lasting way to re-charge. Sound intimating or too hoaky? Meditating isn’t about clearing your mind of all thoughts but it is about not allowing yourself get stuck on any one particular thought. If you start off by learning to focus on your breathing, spending 5-10 minutes a day even, just paying attention to filling your lungs all the way to the bottom and then slowly allowing that breath go, it becomes difficult to worry about work. Both Jon Kabet-Zinn and Kelly McGonigal have resources, which are down to earth and very approachable for learning more.

Time to unplug? Can’t wait to hear how you’ve decided to do it!