All work and no play may make Jack a very dull boy, but can too much work actually make Jack sick? According to a wide array of research, the answer is a resounding YES.
Take the study published in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000. Researchers analyzed data from 12,000 men between the ages of 35 and 57 who were prone to heart disease. The thirteen percent who reported skipping their vacations the previous year had a much higher risk of death than those who took their vacations.
In another study published in Occupational Medicine, workers in a medium-sized manufacturing firm reported fewer physical ailments immediately after a vacation, and the results still held five weeks afterwards.
According to Maharishi Ayurveda, these results are not surprising. Maharishi Ayurveda takes the concept of balancing activity and rest seriously, advising us to include adequate rest and rejuvenation in the cycles of each season and as part of every single day. This is essential for preventing ill-health in body, mind and emotions.
Here are seven ways to incorporate more rest and relaxation into your schedule throughout the year.
Stop straining. Since all disease, according to Maharishi Ayurveda, starts with misuse, overuse or lack of use of the mind, body or senses, it's important not to strain. If you feel exhausted at night after work, or if you feel overly anxious or depressed due to work, you are either doing too much or are doing work that is not suitable for you. Take steps to lighten your workload. If it's the nature of the work itself that is causing you strain, you might want to seriously consider making a change.
Don't slight sleep. It's when you're tired that you tend to overwork. When you're rested you can finish the work without strain and still have energy and time left over for the rest of your life. Research shows that workers who get less than six hours of sleep a night are prone to costly accidents, poor concentration and poor performance. Sleep is also important for producing ojas, the biochemical equivalent of bliss.
Without it depression, anxiety and anger increase.
The quality of sleep is just as important as number of hours. If you have trouble sleeping, try going to bed earlier, before 10:00. This usually creates a deeper sleep. Prepare for deep sleep by avoiding TV and computers in the evening. Take Blissful Sleep to aid in falling asleep, or Deep Rest if you wake up tossing and turning in the night.
Spend time in pure enjoyment every day. Everyone needs a little vacation time built into every single day. If you work on the job, and then come home to endless work there, you're setting up a situation for ill-health, unhappiness and fast aging. Your children will appreciate you more if you take time to play a game with them after dinner, or share a favorite hobby.
If you're on the computer all day, try to schedule real events in the evening, such as walking with friends, painting a picture, or playing a musical instrument. Sharing your life with family and friends rejuvenates the mind and heart in a way that nothing else can. One way to boost your capacity for enjoyment is to practice the Transcendental Meditation® program every day. By allowing the mind to bathe itself in the infinite reservoir of bliss and intelligence that is found at the basis of thinking, you begin to infuse bliss into every activity. Over time practitioners find that life itself becomes blissful, and that no activity is a strain. This is true enjoyment--when every moment of life becomes a celebration.
Structure work breaks. Even while you're working, it's actually more productive to take breaks each hour. A 2000 study in the journal Ergonomics suggested that taking frequent work breaks is the only way to prevent neck and shoulder discomfort due to repetitive work on the computer. Another study showed that the only effective way to reduce Repetitive Strain Injury for computer workers was to institute frequent work breaks away from the keyboard. Breaks are also essential for preventing eyestrain. The most effective break you can take is walking outside and breathing fresh air. Stretch and bend if you can, or walk briskly. This will infuse your brain with oxygen and give you a moment to appreciate the beautiful summer weather.
Schedule rest and rejuvenation between the seasons. One important preventive measure offered by Maharishi Ayurveda is to take time to rest and rejuvenate at the end of each season. The purification procedures of Maharishi Panchakarma are designed to gently cleanse the colon, tissues and microchannels of the body of impurities that have built up during the previous season. This gives the body a chance to enter the new season with maximum flexibility and high immune strength. It also prevents imbalances from remaining in the system. By restoring balance each season, disease is prevented from happening.
Even if you can't do Maharishi Panchakarma every season, you can eat lightly for two weeks during the weeks when the seasons are changing. Favor warm soups, dhals, fresh vegetables and whole grains. This will give your digestion a chance to rest and purify toxins. You can also take Elim-Tox or Elim-Tox-O to purify the liver, Genitrac to purify the urinary system, and Herbal Cleanse to purify the large intestine. Together these products give your body the rest and rejuvenation it needs to create only good health in the coming season.
Take regular vacations. Even if you live a balanced lifestyle, with frequent breaks and adequate time for relaxation each day, it's important to give your mind a complete break once or twice a year. This is especially important if your work is taxing. A change of scenery, away from cell phone, beeper and computer, provides a certain deeper type of rest that is essential for mind and body. It's also healthy for families to spend leisure time together, to forge deeper bonds and share happy times together. Vacations don't need to be expensive--you can camp out, stay with relatives, swap homes. Be creative. The main point is to experience a change of pace, get some deep rest, and allow your mind and body to really take a break. Often, taking a break provides new insights, perspectives and creativity once you return.
Boost your bliss power. Feeling happy is a normal state of mind. If you are fatigued, anxious, or depressed, it's time to take steps to remove the underlying cause. For relief from anxiety, try giving yourself a daily abhyanga, or ayurvedic oil massage. Use Relaxation Massage Oil, and then soak in a tub with Relaxing Therapeutic Bath Salts containing Lavender, Bergamot, Rosemary and Peppermint.
Listen to the soothing rhythms of Gandharva Veda music, and after your bath apply Youthful Skin Advanced Lipid Support, an extraordinary moisturizing lotion that contains herbs and oils that replenish and renew not only your skin but your emotions as well. Take Worry Free or Stress Free Mind to treat the underlying cause of anxiety and to build resistance to day-to-day stress. If your emotions are out of kilter and you feel frustrated or angry on a daily basis, try Cooling Pitta Aroma Oil or light aBlissful Heart aroma Candle.
Massage with Cool Sensation Massage Oil, and bathe with Soothing Therapeutic Bath Salts, which contain a mixture of Patchouli, Vetiver and Cypress to cool body, mind and emotions. Take Blissful Joy or Stress-Free Emotions tablets to give a positive lift to your emotional health. Just making a few changes can put you back on track and help build the inner resources that make every day feel like a holiday.
Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, Inc.