How Do You Recharge?

 In Blog

This past week, I’ve been recharging my batteries on vacation in Tennessee. The KVJ Show West Palm Beach is a perpetual ratings juggernaut. Host Kevin Rolston is one of radio’s most creative and driven personalities in this hectic business. He has inspired me to maintain my creative energy and work smarter when I’m back in the office this week.


I have been in radio almost 30 years and 28 of those have been doing morning shows. Not only have I gotten older, but the job has gotten harder. Adding podcasting, video, and social media to the mix has made doing my show around-the-clock venture six days a week.

Three years ago, I learned a valuable lesson about burnout. I foolishly added an afternoon sports show to my already taxing morning show and prepared for it just as ferociously as my morning show. After eight months, I was fried and found myself unable to strike up passion for either show. I had never experienced anything like it before in my career and secretly wondered if it were all over.

So, I delved into anything I could find on burnout, mental fatigue, and rejuvenation. After much reading and soul searching, I have radically changed my approach to life, sleep, diet, and radio. I now prioritize sleep and will not settle for anything less than seven hours. I also cut all sugar, starchy carbs, and processed flour out of my diet. I basically only eat lean meats, vegetables, and nuts.

I also have studied my own body to understand my energy levels and how they contribute to quality productivity. By maintaining constant awareness, I match my best energy with my most important projects. Times of lower energy result in switching to less important projects. When I am too tired to do anything productive, I step away for as long as it takes to rejuvenate. Often it means until the following morning. Then I am more focused than ever and have replenished my passion for my job and my future.

One thing I have learned on my journey is that we are all machines. We expend energy and like a machine, that energy must be replaced. Anyone who doesn’t do what we do, has no idea just how mentally draining five hours of continual focus can be.

Unfortunately, after the show performance, comes the preparation for the next morning’s performance. Finding the energy for more sustained focus and creativity is a daily struggle for me. The pressure to perform creates anxiety and stress.

You might find this article interesting. It talks about recovering from extended periods of “directed attention,” which is exactly what we do. I edited it down to only the points that spoke to me. Hope it helps!

Your ability to effortfully focus your attention is finite. Just as an overworked muscle grows weak, overworking your attention span seems to wear it out. When that happens, your ability to concentrate plummets. Your willpower takes a hit, along with your decision-making abilities. Attention fatigue may also contribute to stress and burnout.

Whenever you train your attention on something — an act cognitive scientists call “directed attention” – it requires effort. Distractions, multitasking behaviors, loud noises, bustling urban environments, poor sleep, and many other features of modern life seem to promote attention fatigue.

There’s even some research linking attention fatigue to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Avoid things that fatigue your attention — technology (pretty much anything on a screen), books, social interactions, loud noises, and multitasking. Your brain needs idle time to rest and recharge. Activities that grab and hold our attention too forcefully are unlikely to recharge our brain’s batteries.

Getting out in nature relieves attention fatigue. Natural environments are just stimulating enough to gently engage the brain’s attention without unhelpfully concentrating it.

Soft fascination is folded into a psychological concept known as Attention Restoration Theory or ART.

“While a lot of the ART research highlights time in nature as the optimal route to cognitive replenishment, it’s not the only route. Mindfulness attempts to loosen the mind’s preoccupation with self-focused thoughts and judgments while also broadening awareness of your surroundings. This seems a lot like what spending time in nature does automatically, and there’s evidence that moving mindfulness training in o natural outdoor settings may augment the practice’s benefits.”

Deprived of that time and the soft-fascination experiences that support it, your psychological and cognitive health may pay a price.

Here’s a great nugget from Neal deGrasse Tyson on Joe Rogan’s podcast: “To be more creative, you have to be less productive.”

How do you recharge your batteries?

By Kevin Rolston

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

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