This weekend, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Tony Schwartz with this title. The author is the CEO of The Energy Project. The premise of the piece is that incorporating relaxation into your day (and life) boosts energy and, subsequently, boosts workplace performance.
The full Times article is here. It’s worth a read. Here are some of my favorite nuggets.
When night shift air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap — and slept an average of 19 minutes — they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction time.
Longer naps have an even more profound impact than shorter ones. Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside, found that a 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as fully as did eight hours of sleep.
Napping improves vigilance! Napping improves memory test results! Napping makes you better at life! You know where you can get some really nice daytime rest and even sneak in a little snooze if you so desire? My massage table.
On practicing renewal:
…I learned that it’s not how long, but how well, you renew that matters most in terms of performance. Even renewal requires practice. The more rapidly and deeply I learned to quiet my mind and relax my body, the more restored I felt afterward.
He is writing, here, about working in 90-minute intervals with breaks in between. For maximum rejuvenation, quality matters more than quantity. So a short break filled with a deeply relaxing or energizing activity (e.g., napping or going for a run) is better than a long break of spacing out and refreshing Facebook repeatedly. OK, he definitely didn’t say that last part. I’m extrapolating.
On his work with The Energy Project:
Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably. In a decade, no one has ever chosen to leave the company. Our secret is simple — and generally applicable. When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work.
The article does not mention massage explicitly, but my own experience tells me that massage therapy is an excellent way to maximize relaxation and rejuvenation so you can go back to work and flow at your best. I know this from performing corporate chair massage, sending people back to their desks closer to their best selves than when they came in, and I know it from my experience working in wellness centers where I’ve been permitted the opportunity to receive treatments during breaks in my day (I am, on occasion, tremendously spoiled). I highly recommend sneaking out of the office for a daytime massage and seeing what it can do for you.