For so many of us, re-charging seems to be something that sounds like a good idea in theory, but never actually gets done. Kind of like cleaning out your closet. You want to do it, you know you should do it, but you don’t HAVE to do it, right?
While that sweater you bought in 2010 but have never actually worn can sit in your closet forever, you actually do have to make time to re-charge.
What is re-charging, anyway?
Isn’t it just the same as resting? The short answer is no.
You probably know that stress is bad for your health, right? That’s pretty widely accepted. Stress bad. Calm good. Usually we think of stress as things like having a lot to do at work, juggling your family’s schedule, or a fight with your significant other.
Stress can come from all of the good things too.
Your friend’s birthday party. That amazing new apartment that you just moved into. The wedding you’re planning for your sister. All of that causes stress.
Before you tell me I have no idea what I’m talking about, hear me out. Anything that drains you of energy causes stress on your mind and body. It wears you out. Unless you’ve tapped into a never ending energy source that no one knows about (and if you have, please share it with me ASAP), you only have so much energy in a day. Both your mental and physical energy have limits. At some point, you will need to rest.
Your body and mind can’t tell the difference between good and bad stress.
You just feel the effects of stress, regardless of whether or not it’s “good” stress or “bad” stress. Energy is taken away when you have an awful meeting at work, and energy is taken away when you spend hours touring a winery with your family. You might feel happier after the winery, but your body just knows that energy is lower than it was when you started. At some point, you need to rest in order to get that energy back.
This is different than resting in that it gives both your mind and body a break. When we think of resting, we usually picture someone on the couch watching TV and scrolling through their phone. What’s wrong with that? Social media, e-mail, and text messages are all great but they use up mental energy. Reading the news, especially these days, can be difficult. Catching up on current events can completely exhaust you, even if you never get out of bed while you’re doing it. You might not be physically moving, but you’re not re-charging.
So what can help you re-charge?
Taking a walk. Reading a book. Painting. Knitting. Yoga. Meditation. Watching a movie. As you might notice, you can re-charge in a bunch of different ways. The trick is that you’re also giving your mind a break. You’re not worrying about whether that person got your e-mail. You’re not wondering why he never texted you back. You’re not thinking about how you’re going to find time to go grocery shopping. You’ve unplugged. Both your mind and your body are getting a break.
Just like that phone that’s going to be so hard to put down, the battery eventually runs out. Yours does too. Your phone, however, knows to shut off and refuses to turn back on until it gets re-charged. Your phone knows what’s up. Be more like your phone. Or your computer. Or your tablet. Or your, well, you get the picture.
Rachel is a licensed therapist and co-founder of Viva Wellness. She gets most of her inspiration for the blog while on the run, and if you ever need to find her, she’s probably in Central Park. If she’s not running, you’ll find her planning the next time she’s going to eat, exploring all things wellness in NYC, or raising her stress level by watching her sports teams.