I just got out of a three day resting period. No working out, no following a strict diet, no writing articles (I had a couple written in advance), no nothing. It felt nice to take some time off for once.
Most self-development coaches focus on why you need to work more. And they’re right.
Most people are lazy as shit. Most people sit around and watch Netflix for 3 hours a day, don’t ever push themselves, and live a pretty pathetic life in general. But, as I’ve said before, there’s a lot of paradoxical advice when it comes to self-development. Telling an average person to rest more would simply remove all productivity from his life, because he has next to none.
But if somebody’s a fucking conqueror, it takes its toll—you need to rest since you’re operating at 100% of your peak capacity for long periods of time.
Over the last 6 months, I burnt myself out. I was literally improving myself in all core 4 areas of life for nearly half a year straight, and it took its toll. I was doing some intense meditation sessions for 40 minutes a day, using Life Flow. This increases the rate at which your brain rewires itself by nearly 10 fold.
I was working out 5-6 days a week. I was counting all of my calories and eating a perfect diet. I was learning game, and improving my online dating game. I was working on the blog every single day. I was reading for an hour every night. I was doing a lot of time-consuming, will-power taxing, self-development. And for a while, it worked.
But a couple of weeks ago, I started to notice that I wasn’t as sharp as I usually am. My writing started to get worse, I had difficulty focusing, I was losing motivation in the gym…what had happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. I was starting to get burnt out.
Your body can only take so much improvement before it has to relax and recuperate for a while. I tried to push through this for a week and a half, but eventually realized that it was a pointless endeavor. I was going to just have to give in and rest for a few days, otherwise I’d burn out even more.
Had I not taken a few days off to relax, I would’ve eventually needed a week or more. Men that function at very high levels typically follow this type of pattern. They work really fucking hard for long periods of time, but then require some major downtime for a week or so.
Now—I want to be clear. If you aren’t working (this includes self-development as well as a job) for literally more than 12 hours a day, this isn’t for you. Most men shouldn’t be resting at all. Most men need to go out and work. But if you’re reading this blog, hopefully you aren’t one of those men.
Learn to tell the difference between burning out and just being lazy. A lot of men that are just lazy, use the “you need to rest every once in a while!” excuse to continue being lazy.
Laziness is just you being a bitch. If you’re just lazy, don’t bother resting—you should on rest if you’re on the verge of burning out. This is when there’s literally something physically and psychologically wrong with you and it takes effort to even get out of bed. If you’ve never been burnt out before, and are wondering: “Am I burnt out?” a good question to ask yourself is: “How many hours am I working a day?”
If the answer isn’t “12 or more,” then you’re not burnt out. You’re just being lazy. In order to avoid “burn out syndrome,” where you literally work yourself to sickness, you must learn how high achievers employ strategic rest.
Generally speaking, there are two types of rest. Micro-rest and macro-rest. If you want to be successful, and rest in a way that’s highly efficient, you must learn to use each one effectively.
Micro-rest, as its name implies, is the rest that you get on a daily or weekly level. This might be taking an off day from the gym, having a day to reflect once a week, or doing something enjoyable a few nights a week, like grabbing a pint with your mates or going to a club.
Macro-rest, on the other hand, is the rest that you get on a monthly or yearly level. This might be taking a week long vacation to the Bahamas where you do nothing, but sway in a hammock all day long. It might be spending 3 days (like I did) just lying in bed, watching movies, and playing video-games. It might be you going on a 2 week camping trip to get in touch with yourself and find some inner peace.
Both are absolutely crucial to avoid burning out. If you don’t have enough micro-rest, you’ll burn out every couple of months. You need to do some things that you enjoy, otherwise life will be horrible for you. On the other hand, you also need to have enough macro-rest. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter how much micro-rest you have. You’ll eventually burn out.
Micro-rest can be used on three different levels. Hourly, daily, and weekly. Personally I prefer to use micro-rest on a daily and weekly level, because I find that resting every single hour gets me out of my flow state when I’m in the zone. But, because some guys can benefit from hourly micro-rest, I’ll mention all three strategies and let you decide what works for you.
Some bloggers, such as Elliott Hulse, have recommended that you follow an hourly, micro-rest program. Although he didn’t coin the term micro-rest (I did), it’s basically what he’s advocating. Others, such as Francesco Cirillo, advocate taking a 5 minute break every 5 minutes. Personally, I don’t like this, but do what you will.
One way of doing hourly micro-rest would be to work for 45 minutes straight, and take a 10 minute break. Or maybe work for 30 minutes straight and take a 5 minute break. Then after your break, you’d just repeat the cycle. Either way, you get the idea. Proponents of the hourly micro-rest scheme argue that this keeps your brain fresh, but I find that it’s too distracting and prevents me from getting immersed into a task.
Most people participate in some form of daily micro-rest. Examples of this may be winding down at the end of the day by reading a great book, watching a movie with your girlfriend, or going out to a Lakers game. Daily rest also includes getting 7-9 hours of sleep. If you’re not sleeping enough, you’ll burn out very quickly (and I’m speaking from personal experience here).
I find that getting my work done in the morning, and then doing something social in the evening is the best of both worlds—you get enough relaxation in the evening to rest, but you can also develop your social skills and game at the same time. I prefer to work until around 9 or 10, and then do something fun like go out to a night club or go to a party.
Weekly micro-rest is one of the most under-appreciated and under-practiced forms of rest. Wise patriarchs of the past (such as Benjamin Franklin) actually advocated having one day a week to rest and reflect. The idea, perhaps, sprung out of the Puritan culture of the East Coast (Sunday being the Christian day of rest), but whether you’re religious or not is irrelevant. You can still benefit from weekly rest days.
Here is what I recommend: work your fucking ass off from Monday to Saturday (still employing some micro-rest, however). Then, on Sunday, take it easy and educate yourself. Read some books filled with wisdom, maybe just rest outside if it’s a nice day, and spend the evening reflecting on the past week. Did you accomplish your goals? Did anything significant happen? How are you making changes in your life?
Asking yourself these questions once a week is a slight edge habit, which can have a drastic impact on your life over the course of a year.
Macro-rest can technically be used on a monthly basis or on a yearly basis, but it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you only take a period of macro-rest once a year, it better damn well be a long period (like 2-3 weeks) or else you’ll risk burning out.
If you take a macro-rest period every few months, however, it might only be a few days. Personally I find that a combination of doing both works best for me. If I’ve been working on a really long project for a grueling 3-4 months, I’ll take a 2 week vacation doing something fun. I also enjoy doing weekend trips to random places as little getaways.
Generally speaking, there’s two types of Macro-Rest: expansive and contractive. Yes, rest can be either expansive or contractive; let me explain.
When most people think of rest, they think of doing nothing, recuperating, and rejuvenating. But there’s a different type of rest that also recharges your batteries. Sometimes, you’re don’t burn out due to excess stress, but due to having a dull, mind-numbing life.
If this is the case, you need to employ expansive macro-rest. This is basically doing anything that changes your paradigm and forces you to view reality in an entirely different way.
As I said before, contractive rest, as its name implies, is when you take time to relax and do very little in order to recuperate. This might be things such as lying down all day, watching movies, reading a book, playing video-games, or just sitting outside on a sunny day.
The purpose of contractive rest is to recharge your batteries rather than to rekindle zest for life. Contractive rest is required after months of hard work. Going to Cancun for a week and lying out on the beach, renting a peaceful cabin in the woods, or staying at a luxury spa/resort would be examples of contractive macro-rest vacations.
Expansive macro-rest, on the other hand, is the solution to burning out from living a mind-numbing, dull, predictable life.
Some people burn out from working too much on their passion (like me), but others burn out from working too much on something that’s incredibly boring.
If this is the case, you need expansive rest. Expansive rest, or active rest, as it could also be called, is basically doing a certain activity that charges you with energy and makes you feel alive again.
It could be something like going on a skiing trip for a week, going bungee jumping, learning to skydive, going on a week long vacation to Vegas, or exploring the ancient catacombs in Rome. The point is just for you to do something DRASTICALLY different than you’re used to. It will keep your brain awake by forcing you to interpret reality in different ways and by supercharging your life with cool, crazy new experiences.
Rest is just that: rest. It should not be a lifestyle. It should be used when you need rest. So, then, the problem is figuring out when you need rest. That’s something that you’ll have to figure out for yourself, but there’s a questions you can ask yourself to figure it out:
If you answered yes to these three questions, you’re probably burnt out. You could also just be a lazy bitch, but if you’re reading my blog then it’s unlikely.
Rest should be partitioned so as to gain the maximum benefit from the least amount.
Some people need literally months of rest and exploration to rekindle their humanity and regain their energy levels. I once knew a man who worked a corporate job for 5 years straight. 80 hours a week, no vacation, no breaks. He got so burnt out that he had to quit his job and travel across southeast Asia for half a year. This is an extreme case, but it’s what worked for him.
Most guy will do just fine with a weekend retreat or a week long vacation to California or something.
Obviously you should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep, preferably 9 if you’re living an athletic lifestyle and trying to build muscle. In addition to this, it’s also a good idea to employ my productivity gems, such as chunking your day and utilizing Pareto’s law.
I won’t go into too much detail here, because I already covered it in that article, but chunking basically takes advantage of the micro-resting principle. You do certain things each day in “chunks,” and the last chunk of the day is designated towards relaxing and doing something that you enjoy.
Maybe you’re a movie buff—okay, then watch a movie. Be careful not to let this take over your life, however. I know a lot of self proclaimed movie buffs who use watching movies as an excuse to never do anything social at night. Sometimes you should stay in and read a book you enjoy, or go out and game. Maybe you want to invite a girl over and split a glass of wine or something. I don’t know, but just find something that you enjoy to do and do it each night.
At least once a week, you should have a period of introspection and rest. I mentioned this in my night time routine article. The idea is that you want to spend at least one night a week reflecting on the past 7 days of events and taking it easy, so that you can hit the grindstone hard come Monday morning.
What did you do in the past week? Did you live up to your standards? Did you do anything you shouldn’t have? Did you accomplish your goals? If so, why not? The point is for you to start noticing common patterns in your life (whether good or bad) so that you can either fix them or improve them.
Maybe this takes the form of you getting some work done Sunday morning, but Sunday afternoon and evening you just hang around, watch a game with some friends, and then go to a yoga class or something. I prefer to get weekly massages every Sunday, because it helps my body recover and eases tight muscles. Find a relaxing, rejuvenating ritual that you like to do, and incorporate it into your week.
This is now crossing over into macro-rest territory, where the period of rejuvenation won’t be a matter of hours, but a matter of days. A lot of men (me included) seem to thrive on a week long break every 6 months or so. Again, this doesn’t have to be going on a vacation. It could be you going on a camping trip or renting out a cabin in the woods so that you can find inner peace and have some time alone.
Or maybe you want to spend a week in Barcelona learning game, to get your mind off of business. Either way, the point is that when you’re functioning at a high level, you need to take some rest off or you’ll end up burning out…which brings me to my final point.
As I’ve said many times before, there’s a ton of paradoxes in self-development. My advice to rest more is no exception. 99% of men shouldn’t even consider resting more, because they already rest for 7 hours a day checking Facebook at work and watching Netflix at home.
But, for that 1% of men that actually hustles, you owe it to yourself to rest every now and then.
Don’t even look at it as lost productivity, either. For a lot of men (again, me included) it can be very difficult to rest, because you feel like you’re losing valuable productive time. But the thing is that if you take a break every now and then, you’ll actually come back stronger and will end up being more productive in the long run.
If you have any questions or comments, be sure to leave them down below. I love hearing from my followers. I hope that you all enjoyed this article, and I’ll see you soon.
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.