I listen to a LOT of podcasts. I listen to creatives, entrepreneurs, people of faith, and more. After a while, I realized that it's quite common for these successful people, both the podcasters and their guests, to speak of hitting a wall or crisis that leads them to realize that they need to take care of themselves:
- Physically, mentally and emotionally
- To simplify and focus on their lives and bodies in addition to their businesses
- To create boundaries, for themselves and others
I think it's easy to say that they can allow themselves the luxury of rest because they're already successful. After all, everyone knows that it's hard work to build a business, and if you want to "make it" you have to suffer the lack of sleep, stress, and burnout. Is that really the truth? Or is there a better way? A way that allows us to build our businesses in healthy ways from the beginning.
The Benefits of Rest
All of the major religions of the world have some form of a Sabbath, either daily or weekly. If God not only commanded that we rest, but also took time to rest Himself, you can be assured that rest is required by all of us. There are many benefits of rest, but let's focus on a few key areas that will lead to greater success in both life and business:
- Renewed Energy: The most obvious benefit of rest is a renewal of both physical and mental energy. Rest does not necessarily have to mean sleep either. It can be as simple as taking a walk outside and getting fresh air, or as complex as a retreat or spa weekend. Regardless of what you're doing for rest, the result will be an increase of mental energy, physical energy, or both.
- Better Holistic Wellness: Mental health professionals use a tool called the Wellness Wheel to help asses the overall health of their patients in six key areas - Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Social and Financial. While it's impossible to give every one of these areas the same level of focus and attention is every season of life, to completely neglect or ignore even one of these areas will have a detrimental impact on all of the other areas. We use rest as an opportunity to focus on the "lessor" areas of any season in life. For instance, if you're launching a business, your main focus is probably in the Financial and Intellectual areas. Rest is a time to cultivate friendships, your faith life, your physical health, etc.
- Increased Creativity: Creativity is something that needs to be nurtured and fed. Sleep allows our brains to function better, increasing creativity, but trips museums, nature walks, good books and even a great movie or television program can all feed our creativity. We don't know where inspiration will come from, and it's our responsibility to find out what restful pastimes spark our individual creativity. Explore and experiment. Enjoy the process.
How to Create Room for Rest
How can we, in the throws of start-up stress and a culture of rise, grind and hustle, intentionally choose a different way for our selves, our families, and our businesses? Some of the most successful business leaders in the world credit napping daily for their success. Almost every "famous" Morning Routine includes time for meditation and reflection. How are these moguls making rest and reflection an ongoing part of their lives?
- Have Good Boundaries: Some people see boundaries as a negative thing. In reality, boundaries not only help keep the negative out of our space, but they allow the positive into our space. Anything that drains you mentally or physically, needs to have boundaries around it - television, toxic relationships, workaholism, escapism, isolation, crowds - anything that is an energy suck to you. At the same time, nature abhors a vacuum, so we need to ensure that we're filling the time and space we create with activities and pastimes that are restful and rejuvenating to us.
- Step Away From Technology: The always on nature of our technological age means it's especially challenging to step away from work or the things that distract us. Sometimes, it's necessary to step completely away from technology. Even your phone. Start small if needed, but choose to take time disconnected from everything.
- Train Your Clients: People will always treat us the way we allow ourselves to be treated. If your clients are used to you responding to their text messaged and emails at all hours, then they'll continue to send them at all hours. And honestly, they'll be disappointed if you don't respond as quickly as they've come to expect from you. If you've trained your clients to believe that you're always on call, it's time to have a conversation with them. Either way, be clear with all new clients that you have hours of operation and that they can expect to give you a reasonable amount of time to respond to their questions and concerns. You may choose to set their expectations a little "lower" than what you can consistently deliver. That way, you are always seen as over-delivering, but still giving yourself the buffer you need to take care of all of your clients and yourself.
- Empty Your Mind: You may take up a meditation practice, or prayer walks, or any of the other available mindfulness practices. However, if you're like me, your mind is going to still be popping up things to write, remember, do, etc. Have a place to jot these things when you're trying to rest and clear your mind. Writing it down gets it out of your head and allows you to let it go and get back to rest. I have notebooks by my bed, in my purse, on my desk - anywhere that I need to be able to clear my mind or focus on a specific task.
- Take a Deep Breath: Rest doesn't have to be an hours long or all day event. Taking time throughout the day to rest and allow our minds to transition from one task to another, or to simply be calm, can be rejuvenating and increase our effectiveness and productivity. Incorporate breathing breaks or short yoga breaks into your work day. You can do this at home, at a day job, in the car, or just about anywhere. Prayer breathing, deep breathing, and body scans are all ways to incorporate short breaks and mindfulness into your day. You can adapt these practices to suit your needs. You can mix in Scripture, movement, counting, or any number of other practices that allow you to reach a calm and relaxed state.
What area on your Wellness Wheel could use a little extra attention this week?
In what ways are you creating time to rest and rejuvenate in your life right now?
In what area of your life or business would you like to explore and experiment with ways to create more rest?