Work has been especially busy and stressful lately and it’s not going to get better for a while. Ordinarily I would use sick leave until the hard work was finished but this time I specifically have to do it myself. Even if I stay home sick the work will just wait until I get back. So, reluctantly, I am working hard all day.
This has me thinking about how to recharge myself in my free time. It’s important that I come to work tomorrow ready to think straight, work hard, and not scream profanities at the first person who can’t remember their password. So what’s the best way to do that?
How do you recharge your brain?
I’ve struggled with concentration all my life. And work is asking me to concentrate and focus almost all the time lately! So I’ve been looking for leisure activities that let my mind wander. The idea is that I can let myself get all my non-concentrating and un-focused thinking out of my system at home so I can buckle down and pay attention at work the next day. To do this I look for activities that occupy my brain enough to not be bored but that are easy enough that my mind is free to think about … whatever it wants. If my mind wonders about some random thing it can wander over to that thought and think about it as long as it wants or not at all. Like letting a puppy run around and smell things. I’m letting my imagination run around smelling whatever it wants. If that metaphor doesn’t make sense it’s because I lost focus halfway through this paragraph.
World of Warcraft has been a great way to let my mind wonder and wander. Doing the daily World Quests is easy and I’m basically on autopilot. Even other solo question things are fairly easy to do and free up my brain to think about whatever it wants. (Although I have noticed its thoughts are inspired by WoW.) But it’s still a thing I can do without placing any rules or constraints on my concentration. (Are there ducks in WoW? I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a duck in WoW. Sorry, random thought.)
Farming Simulator is a game I’ve played a lot of that lets my mind wander a too. It’s mostly about driving large farm machines and the act of driving around an ideal little farm space is wonderfully relaxing. And since there’s no danger of me driving into a tree or losing and arm in a giant machine in the video game my mind can wander all it wants.
Farming Simulator combines my five year old love of big machines with the peaceful tranquility of outdoor life. And the mind is free to wander when you’re basically driving in circles all day.
But there’s a completely different option other than letting my mind wander, and that’s to occupy it fully. Reading a book has been a big one for me lately. Reading demands my full attention more than watching TV does because if I lose focus the book doesn’t continue playing in the background (Unless it’s an audio book I suppose.) That extra concentration is a big deterrent to reading sometimes, if I’m tired and think I might like a nap then watching TV is the way to go. But I’ve been enjoying the fact that while reading a book my brain is sort of being guided along the path. Instead of being a hyperactive puppy running around randomly the story takes my mind on a walk and keeps it leashed so it doesn’t go off into the bushes. (I’m really enjoying the Mind Is A Puppy metaphor.)
Ultimately I don’t know which is better for recharging my batteries for work tomorrow. And there’s obviously other things like diet, exercise, and getting plenty of sleep that are important for that sort of thing too. But when I really think about what I can do to help me feel ready to face the day tomorrow it at least makes me aware of what I’m doing and how it affects me. Just paying attention to my mental state and trying to respond to what it needs probably helps a lot. Otherwise I end up at bedtime thinking, “What did I even do in my free time today? I’m not sure I did anything. I can’t go to work tomorrow, I haven’t even started recreating!”
And the boss does not give you a day off because you forgot to do anything fun last night.