Every year, for a decade, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison went on a two-week camping trip. They traveled together all over the eastern side of the country, including Florida’s Everglades, Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, and of course northern Michigan. The two friends took time to learn birdcalls and flower identification, and enjoy breakfast outside.
While a two-week vacation seems like an obvious way for anyone to relax and recover from the daily stresses of work, it’s actually what Ford and Edison did during their workdays that helped them focus their energy and attention. They took naps.
As busy as Ford and Edison were, they knew they were more effective if they rested throughout the day. Dale Carnegie, in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, noted that “Edison attributed his enormous energy and endurance to his habit of sleeping whenever he wanted to.” Edison didn’t sleep very long each night, but he often took multiple 3-hour naps in a day. An associate of Edison said his “genius for sleep equaled his genius for invention. He could go to sleep anywhere, anytime, on anything.” Ford was once stopped from going into Edison’s office by an assistant that knew Edison didn’t want to be disturbed during a nap.
Ford was no stranger to resting throughout the day either. Carnegie wrote “I interviewed Henry Ford shortly before his eightieth birthday. I was surprised to see how fresh and fine he looked. I asked him the secret. He said, ‘I never stand up when I can sit down; and I never sit down when I can lie down.’ ”
Am I suggesting we work in bed most of the day, or keep a nap mat and a mini-fridge with milk and cookies close by? Yes. I mean, if we can make it happen, let’s do it! It sounds more comfortable than Edison’s naps on a workbench. However, if Zoom meetings from bed aren’t plausible (If you’re like me, you’d get cookie crumbs in bed and cause more stress on yourself), try resting in other ways. Here are a few suggestions:
Day dream – Zoom fatigue is real. Put up your coffee cup, turn off your camera, and take 30 seconds to stare out the window. Your eyes will thank you.
Streeeeeetch – Tension and stress often go hand-in-hand. Taking a few moments to stretch your legs, shoulders, back, etc. can give you a boost of productivity. A few deep breaths is a great start.
Love your burrito – Working through lunch might feel like a practical way to get some energy and check off some work tasks at the same time, but it’s not ”rest” if you’re still working. There are more than a handful of benefits to mindful eating that make focusing on your food and work, separately, worth the time. No, we’re not suggesting to take five minutes to contemplate your burrito’s feelings before each bite, just separate eating from work. It’s healthier!
Create a concert – If you have tasks where it’s possible to listen to music, try listening to your favorite calming songs for a bit. Then, switch over to some energetic music for a song or two and you’ll dance right into your next meeting.
Walk it out – Physical activity gets the blood flowing and can help us feel mentally energized. If you have some ideas to run by a coworker, instead of hovering over them while they sit in their cubicle, ask if they can go for a walk around the building.
If you find it challenging to get enough sleep at night, and believe you could perform better at work. A daily nap or resting during the work day can take your performance to the next level.
For more practical strategies to better manage stress and worry, join us for our free interactive webinar on March 2nd 12:00 – 1:00pm EST by registering here. Bring your own milk and cookies.