The Anatomy of Rest
I check my phone again: 3:41am. I can't sleep. My brain won't shut off. It's racing with all the emails to send, tasks to complete, and meetings scheduled for the day. This is going to be rough. No sleep or motivation, but I have a ton of work to get done. I worked over the weekend and late a few nights last week, but I don't feel like I made any progress. Tomorrow has to be different - I need to get rest to be more productive.
Does this sound familiar: too much work to do, yet no energy to get it done?
So the answer is to work more hours, right? Wrong.
The answer is to learn how to rest well.
We all have the drive to do well at our work. It's part of who we are as individuals and is a priority in today's world. We will work long and hard to make sure our work is successful.
What about making sure our rest is successful? When was the last time you evaluated how well you relax and decompress from the day?
Rest is an essential part of us being human. As essential as our desire to succeed, to belong, and to have purpose. The problem is we tend to give rest a minimal amount of attention.
Here are 3 reasons why rest is so important for us to be successful:
- Our brain needs it: with our non-stop culture of work, our brain needs time to recharge. This prevents decision-fatigue and the brain from feeling overloaded. After the break, our productivity and motivation have been restored.
- Our creativity needs it: when we rest, our brain continues to work on problems it has not yet solved. Oftentimes, it's during times of rest that people having their biggest breakthroughs.
- Our work needs it: when we take regular breaks from work, we return with more focus. By doing activities that activate different regions of our brain helps us to renew focus throughout the work day.
Rest is important. Its something we know we need. But, we rarely focus on developing rest as a skill.
Normally, the focus is on what we've achieved and what we can tackle next. After all, it is for our achievements we get kudos and promoted. No one is saying, "I am so glad you took time to rest - great job! Let me give you a gold star!"
Instead of making rest the thing that gets the least of my attention, I want rest to be a central focus. Rest is important to me being a healthy, whole, centered person.
For me, I learned I needed to step away from my work regularly to have effective rest. I stopped working late nights or making commitments that impacted my time to recharge. I scheduled downtime where I could read, get coffee with friends, and be with my family. The results speak for themselves. I am no longer awake at 3am thinking about all the things I still need to get done.
When it comes to finding the restful and restorative activity that works for you, there are many options. Everyone rests and feels restored in different ways. Here are some ways I've learned other parents, creatives, and entrepreneurs get their rest:
- Take a nap
- Go for a walk or a drive
- Listen to music or podcast
- Talk with a friend about what is good in their life
- Consume rather than create
- Do a breathing exercise
- Read a book
We all need to find ways that work for us.
So here is the question for you: how can you plan to rest this week? When can you schedule time to recharge and to step away?
The goal is to step away so when you come back, you are fully engaged from a place of abundance.
By stepping away from our work, by doing less, we learn to be more productive at that which is truly important to us.