Recently, I have been spending a lot of time in the car traveling. My drive from college in Brookings, South Dakota to home is about 3 hours, so I listen to a lot of music, audiobooks, and podcasts. One of my favorite things to listen to is musicals, and as many people know, I am unashamed of my love for the musical Hamilton. I know every line to the musical, and when people ask me why I love it so much, it is hard to explain. I love history, I love musicals, and when a great mind like Lin-Manuel Miranda writes a musical about a founding father that involves fast lyrical melodies, you've got me hooked. On one of my long drives, I was jamming to Hamilton when I was about halfway through, and one of my favorite songs is up next. It is the last song of act one, and it is all about Alexander Hamilton after the revolutionary war ended and what he went on to do. Because of his social circumstances, he had to work twice as hard as any of his fellow founding fathers to build his name and reputation. This song is appropriately named Non-Stop. Lately I feel exactly like Alexander Hamilton, like I have been going nonstop the past couple of weeks.
I have spent the past couple to weeks traveling: going to National FFA Convention, attending the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference, and traveling all around Minnesota for chapter visits and conferences. I have loved every moment of the traveling and connecting with people across our nation. However, I can't seem to find five minutes to sit down to take a deep breath and rest for a while. I will be the first to admit that when I get behind or super busy the first thing I sacrifice is sleep. I will stay up way too late studying for that next big test or finishing writing a paper due that night. More and more, I have realized that I cannot keep this pace up. It is simply not healthy to do this. I think this has served as a reminder to me that we have to slow down and make time to recharge.
Because I’m interested in this topic of losing sleep, I was curious to find out what affect sleep and relaxation has on our health. Some benefits I found from simple resting and recharging are that sleeping can help improve your memory, so when we stay up late studying for that test the next day, it will actually has a negative effect on our test taking abilities. When we get more sleep we are less stressed, sleep sharpens our attention, and helps us make better decisions. By getting an adequate amount of sleep each night, our body has time to destress allowing us to do more in less time. It might seem hard or even impossible to find time to sleep, but I assure you it is important. Sleep is just one way to relax, and if all these benefits come from just one thing, imagine what could happen if we stopped to slow down more.
Later on in the musical, Alexander's family tries everything to get him to simply take a break, desperately begging him to come away with them for a few weeks in the summer. Unfortunately, he stays behind, and because of his stress levels, he makes some poor decisions. We know how history played out for Hamilton, but I can't help but wonder what would've happened if he had taken a break? When we get caught up in the stress of life or the number of tasks we have to get done, we lose sight of our goals and what is really important to us. Have you been going nonstop lately? If the answer is yes, I encourage you to stop and take a breath. Especially as we go into the holiday season and sit down with our families for Thanksgiving (maybe for the first time sitting down in a while), let's remember why taking time to rest and recuperate is important. Have you lost perspective and sight of your goals? Find someone to hold you accountable to how busy you are, to help you slow down, and refocus. Do what is best for you. Find a technique to help maximize your time when you are working; whether that is taking time to have coffee with a friend and catch up or maybe sitting down to dinner with your family. Find a way so you can slow down and enjoy the journey you are on.
Stationed by the Emblem of Washington,