In the modern American culture, extreme productivity has become the indicator of status and success. It often feels like the more hours you can devote to your job, the more accomplished you seem and the more accolades you earn. But while it’s essential to invest both time and energy into a career, it’s also important to make sure this pursuit is balanced with other aspects of your life too.
According to a report from The Harvard Business Review, 94% of surveyed professionals in the United States work over 50 hours per week, and almost half of that percentage work over 65 hours per week. In a social climate obsessed with busyness, the pressure to grind, achieve and scale the corporate ladder has forced many workers to sacrifice their own health on the altar of job performance.
But research has also shown that people who maintain a balance of career, hobbies and exercise are more adjusted physically and mentally than people who dedicate all their efforts to working. In fact, the Psychosomatic Medicine journal found that individuals who make time for leisure activities tend to exhibit decreased blood pressure, healthier weight and a lower risk of depression, among other benefits.
The body needs movement after being sedentary in an office chair for extended periods of time, and the brain needs to unwind after staring at computer screens, listening to presentations and meeting various deadlines from nine-to-five. So integrate more balance and wellness—not to mention, sanity—into your routine with these unique ideas for recreation, exercise and self-care outside the office.
Most industries require you to spend long hours connected to the internet and mobile devices, so once you are off-the-clock, it’s restorative to unplug from technology and be immersed in nature. Gardening fills you with the sense of being rooted in the earth which nourishes contentment and peace of mind. The Journal of Health Psychology even concluded that gardening has a more sustainable effect on reduced stress hormones and increased mood state than some other more ubiquitous hobbies such as reading.
This game isn’t just about cashing in your chips for a quick payout at the casino—poker is a discipline of creative strategy and mental acuity to help the brain re-energize from the wearniness of projects, meetings and other business demands. The thrill of competition, focus on decision-making and ability to remain calm amidst tension make this game a practice in mindfulness of sorts. From Texas Hold’Em to Omaha to Crazy Pineapple, there are many poker variations, and this guide explains the basics of each.
When you think of exercises that promote mind-body awareness and connection, yoga is the obvious example, but another Eastern regimen is just as effective for physical strength and mental repose. Considered a form of Attention State Training (AST), a martial arts practice reinforces the link between body movement and brain function which can stabilize emotions and boost self-esteem. Also, as with yoga, some martial arts emphasize the benefits of meditation and breathing which improve stress management.
No matter how many work assignments are on your calendar, even the most hectic schedules have margin for balance. The mind and body need to recharge through exercise, hobbies and creative expression. This important—but too often neglected—foundation of health leads to greater satisfaction in your career, relationships and life overall.