Rest, Relaxation and Sleep

Recharging Your Batteries the Natural Way

Rest, Relaxation and Sleep

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Learn how to get the most from your downtime.

A key facet of long-term stress is the way that people can sustain intense levels of stress for a while, but then burn out.

Burnout is something that typically affects people who are highly committed to the work they do, probably much like you. When these people are faced with a stressful situation, more-often-than-not they respond with complete commitment, by working intensely hard at resolving it. To do this, they will work all hours, cancel vacations, and cut back on sleep, all to make more time to tackle the problem.

If this is short-lived, then negative effects will be minimal and success will often be spectacular. If this hard work is sustained for a long time without relief, these people increasingly risk burnout.

Rest and Relaxation

Rest is what we do to let stress subside. Rest at the end of a day, and at the end of a week, helps us to calm down.

Doing fun things that we enjoy in our leisure time compensates us for the unpleasant stress we experience at work, bringing some balance back into life. This is particularly important if we routinely experience unpleasant levels of stress.

A good way of getting rest and reducing long-term stress is to take up an enjoyable, non-rushed sport or hobby. If you spend all your working day competing, then can it be very pleasant to be completely noncompetitive for some of your free time. Slow physical activities such as sailing or walking are good for this, as are others where there is little or no pressure for performance. Reading novels, watching television or socializing can also be very restful.

Vacations are particularly important, and you really do need to take these. Where possible, take two weeks off rather than just one week. A common observation that people make is that they really do not start to relax properly until the end of their first week of vacation.

Make sure that you take your vacations and that you use them to relax. Also, make sure that you get enough good quality rest during the week to keep on enjoying life to its fullest.


On average, people need eight hours sleep a night (although this can vary between three hours and eleven hours, depending on the person and his or her age).

If we are regularly short of sleep, then our concentration and our effectiveness suffer and our energy levels decline. We have all experienced this.

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This diminishes our effectiveness in our job, and can, therefore, increase stress. As our concentration wanders, we start to make mistakes. As our energy declines, we become less proactive in what we do, reducing our control over events. This means that a situation that is already difficult and stressful can become worse, needing even more sacrifice to bring it back under control.

Make sure that you get enough sleep. If you have become used to being tired all the time, you will be amazed by how sharp and energetic you will feel once you start sleeping normally.


Stress can cause severe health problems and, in extreme cases, death. While these stress management techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress, they are for guidance only, and readers should take the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they have any concerns over stress-related illnesses or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness. Health professionals should also be consulted before any major change in diet or levels of exercise.

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Comments (4)
  • Over a month ago Yolande wrote
    ExecAssistDebbie, I'd like to throw in my two cents' worth here. I have no idea of your habits etc., but one thing that I will always recommend to everybody is to ditch television during the week. People spend so much time in front on the television when they should really be getting more sleep. The television won't miss you, it doesn't know you're there and neither do the characters in your favourite program. I made a decision about 15 years ago that television is not my friend. (I'll watch the odd program, but it's about 3 hours per week.) I decided that I'd rather live my own life actively, mindfully and being present rather than sit on my couch and watch a fake existence in a little box. Also, actors & actresses; photographers of wildlife series...they all got to do something they love. I'd much rather also go out and do/be/live something I love!

    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi ExecAssistDebbie,

    It is remarkable what a good night's sleep can do to help you to rejuvenate. You say that you dream about taking your dogs hiking on the weekend. Make that dream a reality!

    The research says that getting out into nature for just 20 minutes, whether it is in a park, walking in the woods or along a beach, increases your vitality. And, being with pets is a great stress reliever. You're getting a double whammy of goodness. Imagine how good you will feel and how well you will sleep after your hike.

  • Over a month ago ExecAssistDebbie wrote
    During the work week, I think about how lovely it would be to take my dogs hiking on the weekend. When Saturday rolls around, I am so exhausted from lack of sleep and high stress, that I do silly things like chores, instead of taking time to re-energize my soul. I bet I would feel so much better if I started getting 8 hours of sleep nightly.
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