Whether you work 9-5, night shifts, or remotely, you’ll know the struggle of maintaining a good work-life balance. You’ve got to juggle your work, your social life, your health, and your family – keeping all elements simultaneously up in the air without letting one drop.
Rest is something we often take for granted despite its fundamental role in keeping us healthy, energized, alert, and well, sane.
Getting real, quality rest is not as easy as it may sound. It’s important to consider resting as a skill – something that can be learned – rather than just something that happens by default. It’s also important not to get ‘rest’ confused with ‘free time’.
The key to getting adequate rest is adjusting your mindset. It’s not simply a case of allocating time to rest, but understanding how to experience this time. We’ll refer to this as your ‘Rest State’.
Particularly when we’re focused on our careers, it’s difficult to escape our thoughts about work – what still needs to be done, and what we think we should be doing. This leads to feelings of guilt, overwhelm, and subsequently, stress and anxiety. All of these feelings ultimately prevent you from entering a Rest State.
The trouble is, there’s always going to be more you could do to improve yourself or to advance in your career. But, what we often neglect is the fact that one of the things we can do (for both personal and professional progression) is rest.
With all the many things we have going on in our fast-moving lives, our free time becomes precious. Therefore, our need to rest feels like a pressure – we need to rest well, efficiently, and preferably, quickly! And, it is this exact mindset that is most damaging to our ability to rest. By treating rest as a goal, and something we can simply tick off our to-do list, we disallow ourselves, both physically and mentally, from ever being able to experience quality relaxation.
Step 1 – Mentally disengage from work
Disconnecting from work and not thinking about work-related issues can be especially difficult for self-employed workers, entrepreneurs, and those who are particularly passionate about what they do. But, disengaging from your career on a regular basis can reduce stress and dramatically improve your physical and emotional health.
As well as on a personal level, disengaging from work can also be highly beneficial for your work. Sometimes it’s best to stop trying to solve a problem by actively thinking about it and instead, allow your subconscious to incubate your thoughts. That’s why you’ll notice you often stumble upon your best ideas while in the shower or walking the dog.
In other words, by detaching your personal life from your professional life every once in a while, you can give your mind a chance to unwind without compromising your professional success. And, you don’t need to feel guilty about taking some time out.
Step 2 – Find your rest activity
Once you’ve mentally removed yourself from the workplace, it’s time to find a relaxation technique that works best for you. It’s important to note here that the activities you think you enjoy and find relaxing may actually be holding you back from genuine rest.
For instance, perhaps you read at around the same time each day as a way to unwind before you fall asleep. The problem with this is that it becomes a habit, and a routine, rather than something you are doing because you actually feel like doing it.
Instead, the decision about how to rest in a particular moment should be made at that moment, rather than be pre-planned or simply routine. Rest is all about relieving yourself of stressful situations and letting go of any negativity. Practicing mindfulness and meditation are great ways to help you to cope with stress.
But, whatever you may choose, your relaxation time is for you and should not revolve around what you think you should be doing. Simply do what makes you feel good and helps you to let go of the stress in your life.
Step 3 – Let go of your goal-oriented mindset
To shift your state of mind to a Rest State, you need to adjust your mindset – this is the most difficult but most beneficial thing that you can do. That’s because, from a young age, we are taught that everything we do must serve a wider purpose. For example, the act of reading aims to improve our vocabulary or teach us something new. Exercising aims to improve our physical health.
Treating rest as a chore, and characterizing ‘to feel rested’ as a goal allows us to believe that rest is something we need to earn. If we constantly feel as though we need to be doing more, and that everything must contribute towards our goals, we’ll never feel as though true rest is something we deserve.
But, rest is not a reward, it is a necessity.
Being in a Rest State means letting go of goals and expectations (from yourself or others). Only then will you experience genuine tranquillity.
Let’s be clear – there’s nothing wrong with setting yourself goals, practicing a skill in your ‘free’ time, working hard, or even working overtime. But, what is detrimental is not giving ourselves the rest that we have truly earned and deserve.
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