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In our busy work lives, there is a conspicuous absence of scheduled blocks of planned fun or down time. To cope with overload, we might give up coffee, or take up yoga, or plan a weekly regimen at the gym, but we seldom make time to do… nothing.  Yet it’s hard to think clearly and feel relaxed when we’re in the midst of a whirlwind of activity. Once in a while, we just have to break the routine. 
In medical terms, this is called ‘constructive rest’.  In the morning, instead of cozying up to a coffee and the news, try sitting in silence for several minutes.  On the weekends, plan things to look forward to, and leave your work at the office. Regularly plan time to connect with other people. Arrange something fun or creative or rejuvenating to do, something that will engage your passion and re-energize your spirit.
Taking yourself away from your normal environment for a personal retreat is something I highly recommend – time to be quiet, to think and relax, without the constant interference of TV, telephone and the Internet. You’ll find that you come back clear-headed and refreshed, and your work time will be more efficient and productive.
Take time out for regular renewal several times a year for a day, a weekend, a week, or ideally, several weeks – for a vacation, a retreat, or an adventure. The result will be greater effectiveness with less effort. As you become more comfortable with this process, you will notice that working longer and harder is actually counter-productive.
Passion is part of the self-renewed life, so try regularly to engage in activities you’re passionate about to feel rejuvenated and inspired. Focus on your self-care, and let go of the guilt of getting your own needs met before others, as it is only by caring for yourself that you have the energy to care for others and to do your best work.
Take the time you need to rejuvenate, to clear your head and get off the treadmill of busynesss – for this is the only life you’ll have. Give yourself a break!
Make self-renewal and constructive rest an integral part of your schedule by incorporating these ideas into your regular routine:
– plan a quiet morning routine to set an intention and mood for the day;
– leave your work at the office at the end of each day and week;
– give yourself a break from the constant stress of responding to others by scheduling a personal retreat – time to be quiet, to think and relax, without the constant interference of TV, telephone and the Internet;
– perform a routine activity more slowly and mindfully to experience the joy of the present moment;
– plan fun, creative, or energizing things to do at least one day on the weekend; make it a priority to connect with other people to share a meal or an activity;
– re-energize your spirit by regularly engaging in activities you’re passionate about;
– schedule blocks of time for regular renewal – a vacation, a retreat, an adventure; 
– each week: a morning or afternoon, a day, a weekend.  Make sure you take regular holidays!

This Personal Development article was written by Jan Marie Dore on 2/24/2005

Jan Marie Dore is a Professional Certified Life Coach. For free resources and programs on work-life balance and living your best life, visit Jan’s website at