Why REST is essential for great business decisions
A few weeks ago I sat down as normal to my desk on Monday morning. I felt strangely jittery. That kind of espresso-fuelled jittery.
But I don’t drink coffee.
I ignored it and looked at my to-do list. Five minutes later I was still looking at the list but had not taken in a word. I stood up. Walked around and realised my chest felt tight.
Once again, I ignored it and sat back down. I got through the morning more productively than I had expected, but every step felt like I was wading through mud.
Where had the enjoyment gone in my work?
I questioned if I had had an excessively busy weekend.
No. Just normal. (Well, as normal as a day gets in 2021).
I questioned whether maybe my body was still on catch up (or still in shock!) because of a 21-day exercise programme I had started the week before. I laughed, yes, it had to be the shock.
Tuesday was the same.
Wednesday was the same.
I was now in panic that there was no way I was going to get through my to-do list (that I had finally managed to absorb like a 5-year-old learning to read) before the Easter holidays.
Then the news came that Austria was going back into lockdown. I now needed to bring forward my Easter egg and general food shop, as well as the preparation for my soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter’s birthday party - that could actually no longer be a party 😔
I momentarily questioned whether it was all a bit too much.
And then I shoved that thought away and got on with my day like any good Yorkshire girl would.
(For those of you who don’t know, I was born and raised in Yorkshire in the UK. “Yorkshire folk”, as we are affectionately called, are known for having grit and resilience pumping through our veins 😊).
Anyway, back to the story.
By 8pm that Thursday I was done for.
Normally putting my kids to bed is not too torturous an affair but that day I had to fight back tears of despair as they ran rings around me, and I wanted to scream “I can’t cope with this!”.
I flopped onto the sofa, dizzy with exhaustion. My husband looked at me and said “Why don’t you just go to bed?” in his always calm (sometimes-bordering-on-annoyingly-calm) voice.
I must have looked at him like he had a chicken on his head and was about to fervently object, but my “I have soooo much to do” argument was left unarticulated with a crisp but stern “If you don’t go to bed now, you will be grumpy with me and the kids tomorrow and I don’t want to have to see or hear that. Oh, and your work will suffer too”.
Deprived of my dispute I trundled off feeling like a child and fell into bed.
And I slept for 10 hours. That night, and the next.
I could not believe how much I needed it, and how ferociously I had denied myself of it.
The world didn’t collapse, and I was definitely a better person for it.
It is so simple.
Sometimes it is easier to believe we need to add more rather than just doing less.
It is easy to think all will be solved if we eat better, drink more water, start meditating, take more walks, consider mindfulness practice, fit in some cardio etc etc.
All of these are fantastic, and it is a good idea to incorporate some or all of them into our lives. But in times of stress, putting too much pressure on ourselves to add new practices and routines might not always have the intended effect.
Sleep however, can never be bad for us.
Right now we are suffering from mental fatigue like never before. We all have varying degrees of stressful factors that populate our days, but the one unifying bond is that we are SICK of this pandemic.
Here in Austria we just finished our fourth lockdown, I think. They all seem to be merging together.
And the worst thing about the new waves is that our governments know it sucks. They don’t want to have to tell us to stay home any longer. They want the economy to function again and to not have to pay trillions for furloughed workers and other survival schemes.
That is why they tentatively tell us that the lockdown will only be one week, which then becomes two, three and we are only just now coming out the other side.
There is only so much quality work you can do with kids trying to stick pens between your toes under the table 😅
Sometime last year I saw a brilliant social post that said, “Cleaning your house when it is full of people is like brushing your teeth when you are eating Oreos”.
That is how life feels in general, right? Dust, chaos and oh so many crumbs.
Sometimes, ignoring the crumbs is exactly the right thing to do.
And so is REST.
Do it willingly.
Let the sleep envelop you, nurture you, give you some respite.
Forget bouncing back for a moment. Just taking a few steps forward is enough.
Your health, your family and your business will be better for it when you (finally) wake up.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF (and yes, I do intend to listen more often to my own advice too).
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