Get out there and feel the wind in your hair and the rain on your back! Here’s a personal story from a former stressed-out executive to anyone who feels overwhelmed with everything.
I spent 8 years working in London and during all that time, I constantly suffered from physical and mental exhaustion to some degree. The nature of the work is that it consumed my every waking and sleeping moment; the targets and KPIs never went away. At a management level, I was having to constantly deal with the stress, panic and apprehension coming in from staff, directors and clients.
I tried to deal with these pressures by working harder and longer hours. Yup, the results came and I did get on top of things from time to time, but suffered massively in every other area of life. I used to get up before 6am, cycle 16 miles to work (in central London), do a 10 hour day hunched over the laptop, and load up on coffee and calories until I was turning the lights off in the office before cycling home to a couple of large gin and tonics.
The weekends were the usual round of parties and social engagements, where I would always party too hard in an attempt of escapism that would blot out the pressures of work.
The biggest fallacy that I suffered with for years, was thinking that, if I could just this get these immediate projects completed, then I would organise everything so I had more time to spend with family, friends, on finances, mapping out some career goals, starting a business, relaxing! Unfortunately, this never happens because there are always more projects and deadlines arriving.
Relieve this pressure by learning to sail, windsurf or kayak. Or, if you don’t like the water, do a mountain biking course, learn to climb on rock or set yourself a hill walking challenge. This works on many levels, it’ll teach you something new that will stimulate your brain, it’ll push your comfort zones, but most importantly, it’ll give you something to talk about that is more interesting than the new restaurant round the corner, or the implications of the interest rate on your mortgage!
You can do all these activities on your own by joining a course, or with your family (in search of that elusive ‘quality time’), or even better, get a couple of mates from the office together – maybe even raise some money for a charity. There’s a challenge out there for everyone and I recommend you choose one that is just outside your comfort zone. Bottom line is: give it a go!
Whether hiking in the rain for hours or admiring the unobstructed view from a summit, an outdoor pursuit will give you a sense of perspective. I love water sports because when you’re bobbing about on the sea in a little craft, you realize that your job, your boss and your target are insignificant compared to the next gust of wind that comes along and takes you off again.
Check out the links below for some ideas and inspiration.