If you are self employed or running a small business you’ll know that around the Christmas period or holidays in general you still end up doing quite a lot of work.
Often there is nobody else covering your emails or phone calls and you feel you need to be "on it", especially if you are in a start up phase. You want to be giving your business as much attention as possible - you certainly don’t want to be missing out on any lead. Someone who can become a paying customer is a very valuable commodity.
If you have children off school there is the added challenge of finding time to work around them. However, I think at times like these it's even more important to make sure you’re are finding time to switch off so you don’t lose the love and energy and passion for what it is you are doing.
I have been working on and off these days. Two nights ago I worked into the night, watching the cricket, so I could get up in the morning do a couple of hours work to catch up on the correspondence I didn’t want to lose track of during the Christmas period. Then, I said to myself: whatever happens I am going out for a walk, for two or three hours.
It is always possible to catch up on a couple of hours work but it will take a lot longer to undo the damage of overwork.
Now the good thing about working for myself, of course, is that I am able to do this. This is the plus side of running your own gig, so to speak. You do get to play around with your time a bit and whilst there may be quite a few late nights as you try to build something it also means that when it is a spectacularly cold, frosty, sunny day as it was yesterday, you get to make up the rules and you get to go out and make the most of it.
"I use the outdoors as a means of releasing tension"
What actually made the morning’s jaunt doubly enjoyable - and this is a little bit of schadenfreude which I feel I should apologise for - is that en route I had to go through a concrete tunnel under the A14. As I emerged through the other side, with lakes, hedgerows and frozen water-logged fields in front of me, I looked back to see that the traffic was backed up on the dual carriageway. So, there is no regretting the entrepreneurial life I have chosen to pursue.
For me this refreshing downtime means spending time outside. For others it may mean something else but I am going to focus on this because I am becoming increasingly evangelical about it.
I use the outdoors as a means of releasing tension, sometimes valuable thinking time and more often than not simply switching off. I have lost track of the times that my wife has told me to go for a long walk when she sees the signs of stress building up in me. I seem to come back a different person. So looking ahead to 2018, my second year of "living better”, I am looking forward to another year of finding opportunities, however brief they may be, to commune with nature, to energise myself through physical activity and revel in the invigorating contrast that fresh air and natural light brings the mind and the body.