Writer: Christian Perry
Cassie recently wrote an awesome post on Self-Motivation and Productivity. (Thanks, Cassie!) I thought I’d follow up by writing a complimentary post on relaxation.
As anyone who’s ever started a company knows, startups are challenging work. Not only do they demand a huge amount of time, but they can also absorb you in emotionally and mentally, such that it gets difficult to separate yourself from your day job. (Or more accurately, your day-and-night-and-weekend job.)
Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love my work, and I wouldn’t be doing anything differently. That said, I feel that I do my best work when I’m calm, collected, and relaxed — and all those things require a wee bit of not working. So with that said, here are eight things that help me unwind from a busy day at the office:
Take a Computer Sabbath
Following in the footsteps of The Big Lebowski‘s Walter, I take off every Saturday as a sort of Computer Sabbath. The rule is simple: no laptop, and no email. By taking off one day a week, I can decompress from a long workweek, and focus on all the things that can’t be done in front of a computer screen.
Take a bath
One night, when I was feeling stressed out, my girlfriend suggested I take a bath. She swore by them, she told me, and promised that I’d feel better the moment I got in. I gave it a shot, and never looked back. Moral of the story: listen to your girlfriend.
Play an instrument
For a number of years I’ve played the Irish flute. On a good morning, I’ll hop right out of bed, and spend a half hour playing a lively set of reels, jigs, and airs. I’ve noticed a subtle but consistent boost in my mood when I start the morning off with music, as oppose to the dread-inducing drone of the alarm clock.
My mom started practicing Zen meditation before I was born, and introduced me to the practice when I was a lad of 16. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. I sit a half-hour a day, usually at night before going to bed. No matter how intense a day I’ve had, it’s amazing how quickly all those thoughts and stresses melt away.
Stretch and do Yoga
The human body isn’t meant to sit in a chair for eight hours a day, but apparently this rule hasn’t been communicated to startup founders, whose habits would make you think the human race is slowly evolving to be tetris-block-shaped. After a day of sitting, stretching pays amazing dividends: it loosens up my body, improves my mood, and guards against nasty things like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Read for fun
I love non-fiction. On the weekends, you’ll usually find my nose in some meaty text or another. (Check out my GoodReads bookshelf for a list of what I’ve been perusing recently.) That said, I also love fiction — in particular, a juicy, pulpy fantasy novel — and nothing helps me drift off to sleep better than reading a few chapters in a book that stokes my imagination. (Check out A Game of Thrones and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, two of my favorites.)
After hours upon hours of sitting sedentary, nothing quite beats the feeling of moving around and breaking a sweat. Since I work in downtown San Francsico, I got a membership to Crunch, a decent gym where I hit the treadmills a couple times a week. Exersize seems pretty close to a too-good-to-be-true type of deal: it makes you lose weight, look sexy, feel better, AND might even make you smarter. What’s not to love?
Get out of town
With everything I’ve just written about, I probably sound like a pillar of serenity. The reality couldn’t be farther off. Despite all the things I do to relax, I still face the same stress as anyone living a busy life in a busy city. My days are long, my schedule is packed, and there are ten times as many things as I want to do as I have time for. So what do I find to be the best way to break out of city life? I leave! I’m rarely as relaxed as when I’m back home with my family in Princeton, New Jersey, or leaving the Bay Area to visit friends.
Everything on this list is easy to do (besides the musical instrument), and comes to you highly recommended. By incorporating relaxation into your schedule, you’ll give yourself the necessary steps to work hard without burning out.