Leaders work hard throughout the year.
Making tough decisions, having hard conversations, constantly initiating projects and keeping up with regular check in’s with team members can all take its toll – even if the work is energising, and the results inspiring. Being always-on, as is standard in today’s world, means that the office and thoughts of work are never far away.
Our CEO, Rowan Belchers, recently wrote an article on the value of regular self-care for CEOs. This premise, though, extends to most individuals who work throughout the year. We are not machines and, if your specific industry doesn’t allow for a break now, then a longer break another time in the year is just as useful. (we’re looking at you, hospitality & tourism).
While the willingness to work constantly and be available at any time can be seen as a status symbol, leaders who understand our innate need for rest will value taking time out from the business and allowing themselves time to recharge.
If elite athletes find their performance benefits from rest periods, it stands to reason that elite leaders would experience the same.
There are countless articles and numerous studies on the many benefits of sleep, rest and recovery for your work. From a business perspective, sleep, rest and recovery will ensure you’re more productive, more creative and that your decision making is clearer.
This recent Harvard Business Review article outlines how sleep directly influences leadership ability while you can read a short summary of Alex Pang’s book ‘Rest: why you get more done when you work less’ here.
There is no doubt that these things are accurate, however the purpose of your rest should be to take care of yourself and relax. The intention of rest should not be to add value to your business, even though that may be a likely consequence. Taking time out is essential to your long-term wellbeing and mental health – it is likely to make you a happier human being – a goal to which we all aspire.
In the case of a longer period of time, like the upcoming summer break, most people are able to break their routines and ‘do what they love’ – spend time with family and friends (or, for some people, time alone is preferable), enjoy some nature and generally engage in your choice of relaxing activities. Over a few days, nervous systems relax, phones get left aside and we’re able to be fully present – relaxed, and able to think clearly. The real trick is bringing that sense of relaxation back into your world once the longer break is done.
Our challenge to you this summer break is to notice:
- What brings you joy;
- What makes you relax and
- Which activity allows you to be most present and work out how to bring more of that into your world next year.
If it is the beach, can you break your routine once or twice a month for an evening picnic, or morning walk, on the beach?
If it is reading, can you set aside an hour a week for uninterrupted reading time?
If it is long walks, maybe one Sunday a month gets dedicated to some walking in nature?
If you find yourself energised simply from having space to think and create, how can you craft your working week to allow for some of that space and creativity to enter your workspace.
Whatever your relaxation magic is, give yourself the chance to bring that into your life once you return to work.
With some clear intention setting about how you want to lead in 2019, weaving in these moments of rest may make 2019 a more easeful and productive year than any you’ve had so far.
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