Here's the thing: rest and play

The theme for this week has been as clear as day – almost every single client has needed the same message, and the same homework this week. To rest. To take time out. To play, doing something just for themselves.

It’s a slightly weird time of year, with bank holidays and school holidays and sales that can shift and slow down, but lots to work on nonetheless. The freefall of spring can pile the pressure on as much as Christmas sales – possibly more because there’s this sense of an endless list of things to do.

It’s also a time when you’ve made plans, you’ve decided to make lots of things happen this year, to change your habits or your mind, and yet bad habits creep in. Everyday life gets you.

I have a client who works incredibly hard at her business, and has a demanding family life. Up at 6.20 for the school run, then to orders, going guns blazing into her business life. When she stops work at the end of the day, she goes straight to kids and dinner and sorting the housework. There is very little room to take care of herself – and she’s approaching burnout.

Perhaps you’ve felt some early warning signs of burnout too?

It might be headaches, or that twinge in your back again. You might feel like you run circles round yourself just to get through the day – much less make a clear decision. Perhaps you’re always hungry, but forget to eat. Maybe you can’t sleep because your brain is still working, but you’re dead on your feet during the day.

Take any of these (and more) as early warning signs that you need to rest – and play.

There is so much science around our need for downtime and for-no-reason creative play time. Read Stuart Brown’s work or Tired of Being Tired or The Gifts Of Imperfection if you need convincing. There’s so much out there!

We are human beings – we’re not designed to push through to exhaustion. Our stress response symptoms are the same whether we’re being chased by a lion or convince ourselves our businesses will be ruined if we don’t do everything in a single day.

That’s the tough bit: we create our own stress.

We convince ourselves we’re just being lazy or pathetic or not good enough, so we push ourselves harder. We start to believe we’re the only people who can get everything done (to perfection). It’s just not true, and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Push yourself too hard, and you’ll prove yourself right, because you won’t get anything done to perfection.

No matter what kind of week you’ve had, no matter how busy, there’s always a call for rest and rejuvenation.

So here’s the thing:

Your homework, like many of my clients, is to choose something that is restful or playful, but just for you. I don’t even want to see an Instagram of it! If you really want to, email me afterwards and tell me what it was like to give yourself some rest and rejuvenation.

Here are some ideas:

  • Take three deep breaths. If you need guiding through it, use this recording.
  • Give yourself some screen-free time (no phone, laptop, tablet or TV) for 30 minutes, an entire evening, or even the entire day. See what comes up instead, without the pull of notifications, ‘just checking in’ or getting sucked into another scroll through Facebook.
  • Turn off notifications. Go old school. If there’s an emergency, someone will call you. Everything else can go to no notifications, putting you back in charge of when you check in.
  • Lie down in a darkened room, by yourself. Make it very clear that you’re not to be disturbed for 30 minutes. Just lie in the quiet, or put some relaxing music on.
  • Take a nap.
  • Drink some water. Chances are, you’re dehydrated, especially if you love the coffee or tea. And if you’re approaching burnout, your adrenal glands will definitely thank you for something to replenish with.
  • Go for a walk by yourself. You might take the dog, but no one else is allowed. No talking, no phones, just you. Let yourself breathe and be present in the fresh air.
  • Take a lunch break.
  • Run yourself a bath. The bathroom is definitely a place to be by yourself, just FYI. I love Rachel’s blog about running a good bath.
  • Get out the watercolours, pencil and paper, notebook or knitting needles. Make a mark. Make another mark. Repeat to fade. This is not for business. This is not a new product. This is simply to play. Even if you’re not “creative”, art is therapy. Enjoy it.
  • Book a massage or a facial.
  • Go to yoga. They don’t allow phones or conversation there.
  • Go to bed an hour early. No apologies.

Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it. Know that you’re entirely allowed to rest, to play, to take care of yourself.



Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.