Physical Labor Refreshes You - David DeWolf

Physical Labor Refreshes You

David DeWolf

Two years ago Teresa and I purchased a home that sits on a bit of land. Of the five acres, three of them are manicured lawn.

Moving in, I was scared to death of the maintenance. Not only would I have to mow the lawn, there were plenty of trees and brush that would need to be maintained. Given that I hadn’t mowed our postage stamp lot in several years, this was especially daunting. I wouldn’t be able to hire someone given that it would now cost $200 for a single cut.

Since then, I’ve fallen in love with the physical labor. What I thought I would hate, I now love. I look forward to mowing the lawn and I even look forward to using the chain saw every now and then. Here’s what I’ve found.

It is a change of pace.

For those of us whose jobs are largely mental, physical labor provides a break from the norm. Instead of getting your mind going, it gets your blood flowing.

I find this refreshing. The physical labor actually gives me energy. The reality is that any tiredness I feel is typically mental.

By getting out and doing physical labor, I am exercising the mechanical part of my brain and using a different set of muscles. This change of pace from the ordinary course of my typical day is good for me.

It gives me time to think.

We live in a go-go-go world. There’s always some problem for me to solve or some strategy to think through and it seems like there’s never enough time to “just think.” I find physical labor to be mind-numbing – and I love that. The fact that I can ride my mower, cut down a tree, or, haul some brush away without careful deliberation is freeing. I find myself quickly solving problems and spending time thinking about things that I have been putting off for too long. By the time I’m done, I often feel like my brain is actually empty.

It is productive in a different way.

Mental labor never seems to be done. There’s always more that can be considered, pondered and thought of. Physical labor has a concrete end. When the lawn is mowed, it’s mowed. When the tree is cut, it’s cut. When the brush is edged, it’s edged. Physical labor gives me a feeling of productivity. It feels good to accomplish something and check it off your list.

Sometimes it’s hard to make time for physical labor. It seems easy to push off or delegate. I’d urge you to try getting back into it. Mow a lawn, paint a room, do something out of the ordinary. Try it with a positive attitude and just experiment to see if it refreshes you. See if you can derive the same benefit from physical labor. It really can be good for you.

How do you make time for physical labor? What’s your favorite thing to do to relieve stress?