Plan for Renewal
With days, weeks, and months that are packed full of responsibility, you can’t exactly head to the spa, to the nearest mountain for a hike, or to wherever you go to relax and reflect on a moment’s notice. Heck, you can’t even paint your own toenails in the bathroom without being interrupted!
So, if you want to renew your energy, you’re going to have to find ways to relieve stress first. The best way to do this is to schedule time for relaxation just as systematically as you would plan to complete a long-term project at work. If you keep waiting for the right moment to kick back and smell the roses, it’ll never happen because life will get in the way.
“Remember, what gets scheduled gets done,” Milazzo shares. “If renewal time is really a priority for you, it will be on your calendar. Period. So you need to make sure that no one—including you—overbooks your time.
"Over the years, I have learned to schedule everything from vacations to massages to daily quiet time and exercise in my planner," she adds. "I have also learned that what you’re striving for shouldn’t be a balanced day, but a balanced life. For example, if I know I’m about to take a totally unplugged vacation, I’m willing to work some 14-hour days beforehand. The key is to feel that you are in control of your life instead of the other way around.”
While many of us would like to think that frequent trips through the drive-through don’t have that much of an ill effect, the truth is that these empty calories have a negative impact on our short and long-term health. The same goes for poor sleep and insufficient exercise. Look honestly at your eating, fitness, and resting habits. Are they helping or hurting? If it’s the latter, you need to know that it’s not only your body that’s affected; your productivity, energy, creativity, and motivation will also take a hit.
“Physical health is necessary for any kind of success, because increased energy opens up all kinds of doors,” Milazzo asserts. “There’s no need to make a ton of drastic changes all at once, but over time you do need to shoot for a balanced, nutritious diet, regular exercise, and, of course, the chance to relax with a massage, a facial, or a soak in the tub. No matter how smart you are or how much potential you have, you’ll never get anywhere if your body is sluggish and running on empty.”
These days there’s certainly more than enough to worry about: healthcare, cutbacks at work, your dwindling bank account, the price of gas, the list goes on. It’s easy to spend all of your energy fretting and contingency planning. Sooner or later, though, you’ll hit emotional rock bottom, if you haven’t already, and you’ll go through life bitter, put-upon, and exhausted.
Unless you find ways to relieve stress, you’ll be likely to overreact or underreact to various situations, which will only multiply the number of things you have to fret about! To avoid this fate, you need to allow your emotions to recover and be uplifted on a regular basis.
“If you barrel through life with an unhealthy sense of urgency, you will never enjoy anything,” says Milazzo. “You must learn to enjoy the moment and cultivate calm, not always be pushing. Whether you plan a vacation, have a cup of tea, or go on a walk, think of being kind to yourself as a necessity, not a luxury. Allow yourself to get away from it all from time to time so that when you re-enter the fray, you’ll have freshly buoyed emotions to sustain you.”
All other types of renewal will be temporary fixes unless you have a deep-seated sense of serenity within you to draw upon. Spiritual discipline is definitely a journey, not a destination, but its benefits are peace, calm, and enlightenment.
Figure out what works for you, whether it’s meditation, prayer, study, service, or something else, and incorporate it into your routine. Just a few “time-out” moments at the beginning and end of each day can make a significant impact.
“Spiritual renewal is important for me, because I don’t want to accumulate worldly success and still wonder if ‘this’ is it,” Milazzo explains. “Spiritual renewal looks different for everyone, but I think an important component of it is to quiet down and reflect on who you want to be and what is really important. Doing this will give you lasting perspective and will help you to realize and remember just how precious a gift life is.”