2 min read

Once rejuvenation becomes a competition it’s not rejuvenating

It’s easy to get caught up in van life fantasies, but remember that every restorative activity is impactful
Once rejuvenation becomes a competition it’s not rejuvenating
Photo by Pete Nowicki / Unsplash

Sustain issue #48 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

At times in the last few years, I’ve felt like I wasn’t relaxing to the full extent of my ability. I’ve seen the van life posts. I’ve seen the Instagram photo at the pristine blue mountain lake.

They make me want to live that. And as a result, they make the walk around my neighborhood feel inferior. I should really be prioritizing these epic adventures to fill my cup, shouldn’t I?!?

Then I remind myself, I’m doing stuff I like. That stuff is rad, too.

Creating competition out of relaxation

We live in a competitive society. One where you might be challenged to a movement competition with a friend through the Apple Watch one week, where you’re checking your progress on the Peloton leaderboard, or one where you feel an implicit pressure to plan increasingly adventurous outings to maintain the perfect aesthetic for your Instagram feed.

But there becomes a time when these relaxing habits promoting wellbeing reach a point of diminishing returns.

They promote the right ideas: Health and fulfillment.

But in our already stressful and uncertain lives, is a fitness challenge and the stress that comes with it doing more harm than good? I suppose it depends on how you’re motivated. Yes, that fitness challenge promotes active time. But it turns your activeness from something you’re doing for yourself to something you have to do. It turns your health into yet another item on your to-do list that’s already overextending you.

Too much of a good thing

I really like this simple take from Outdoor Magazine: Every outdoor activity is cool.

That’s it. It gives you permission to treat all activities in your Three Good Pockets, for example, the same. An epic hike along the coast is the same as the ordinary walk through your neighborhood.

Sure, there are plenty of benefits to scheduling that special coastal hike but not at the peril of stressing you out. Remember, the whole point is to relax, breathe in something new, and explore. That shouldn’t be stressful.

And it’s ok to take a break from something. I love kayaking but it doesn’t bring me joy to get bundled up on a frigid winter day. So I stick to going in the summer.

From the article: “You’re not throwing away your skills and experience by focusing on other interests for a while. You’re just maintaining a kind of natural balance.”

I would hate if I burned myself out of kayaking by going year around. So I don’t force it and go when I find it most enjoyable. I kill it before it dies. And I have something to look forward to once winter breaks, which reminds me it almost time to clean off the kayak for the season!

Chase the vista at a sustainable pace since the view is great. But remember that the other ways you fill your cup are rad, too.

Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) who suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

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