You Need Rest.
Sleep is not sufficient.
Today’s hustle culture burns us out and you’re at risk.
I know you’re at risk, because I deal with the fallouts myself.
Burnout or constant exhaustion often results from trying to live a full life, but it doesn’t have to be.
The MPCE3S Framework, which I learned from Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith influenced how I look at rest.
Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.
– Maya Angelou
Most of us are aware of the importance of sleep, even though 1 in 3 adults in the United States reported not getting enough rest or sleep according to the National Institute of Health and nearly 40% of adults report falling asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month.
Sleep is important, and we’ll spend time on it. But, it isn’t enough, my friends.
Some of you sleep 7+ hours per night and are still exhausted, because you aren’t optimizing for the different types of rest you need.
To increase your mental and physical health, creativity and productivity, you need to focus on these 7 types of rest:
The world has changed.
It’s changed in a way that our minds can’t always handle.
It creates mental exhaustion by promoting a culture of constant productivity, where people prioritize being busy over their own rest and self-care. Sine when did busy become an appropriate answer to How you doing?
We are pitch slapped with constant stimulation from technology and social media and feel pressured to be available and responsive around the clock to our workplaces.
We’ve also evolved from a production society to a knowledge-based society with knowledge workers representing 60% of the American labor force, which requires us to engage in mentally draining activities that require a lot of attention and focus:
- Critical thinking
In order to get sufficient mental rest, focus on breaks, boundaries and mindfulness.
Throughout the workday, schedule regular breaks. You can get maximum benefit if you tie-in stretching, meditation or a nature walk during your breaks.
Boundaries are your friend and there are two significant areas you need to set them – the use of technology and your workplace.
Set certain hours that you’ll be at work and when you’ll go home to live and engage with your friends and family.
On the weekend, choose one of the specific days to have a technology fast. On your technology-free day, get outside in nature, focus on your physical fitness and recharge your focus.
There are three ways you can practice mindfulness throughout the day to provide mental rest: journal, meditation and breathwork.
Finally, before bed, close any open loops that were opened during the day so you can have a worry free sleep to recover through the night.
Physical rest allows our bodies to repair and restore themselves.
The hustle culture of constant productivity we talked about above results in us overworking and pushing ourselves to our limits as a badge of honor. This can lead to chronic stress, physical inactivity, and a lack of sufficient sleep, all of which can contribute to physical exhaustion.
As knowledge workers, too many of us also spend long hours sitting at desks or in front of screens, which can lead to aches and pains, poor posture, and decreased physical function.
The best recovery for your body physically is to get a good night’s sleep. When you sleep, your body repairs and regenerate cells, tissues, and organs. When you don’t sleep well, it can impair immune function, increase the risk of chronic disease and negatively affect your mood and cognitive function.
Take breaks, like we talked about above, to stretch, go for a walk and get some light exercise. Research has shown taking regular breaks throughout the day can improve productivity, reduce stress and prevent physical exhaustion.
Finally, Engage in physical activity that is enjoyable, not overly strenuous and, most importantly, sustainable, rather than pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion or injury.
For creative rest, I want to walk you through a gardening example.
Imagine first, attempting to grow plants in dry hard soil that hasn’t been tilled or aerated.
It won’t happen.
Now, imagine you’ve tilled the soil, aerated it and added water.
The plants will grow.
This is what creative rest does.
In this hustle culture, you may be encouraged to work long hours and engage in intense problem-solving and critical thinking without taking breaks or allowing yourself to rest and recharge.
As a knowledge worker, you may also feel pressure to constantly produce and innovate, which can lead to burnout and decreased creativity.
For creative rest, I suggest you:
- Take a walk
- Do breathwork
- Spend time in nature
- Engage in physical activity
When I meditate or go for a walk in nature without headphones I always have new creative ideas I can action on and it’s backed up by scientific studies that have shown (1) taking breaks from work can improve creativity and productivity; (2) spending time in nature can enhance creativity and problem-solving skills; and, (3) engaging in physical activity can promote cognitive function and creativity.
Emotional and Social
Today, we’re hyper connected and it drains us even when we’re not aware of it.
As knowledge workers, we’re also often expected to be constantly available to others and to respond to their emotional demands. As knowledge workers, or leaders, we’re also expected to manage the emotions of others or suppress our own emotions, which can be emotionally taxing and draining.
When we combine them with the human habit to engage in social comparison, it can further lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress.
To achieve emotional rest:
- Set boundaries around emotional labor and say no to emotional demands that feel overwhelming or taxing.
- Engage in self-care activities: spend time with loved ones, engage in hobbies or practice mindfulness.
- Seek support from a therapist or counselor if you’re struggling with difficult emotions or mental health issues.
- Practice healthy communication and conflict resolution skills to reduce emotional stress.
The constant stimulation and distraction from technology and social media can make it difficult to find time for quiet reflection and contemplation. Combined with our hustle culture, it leaves little room for our spiritual or religious beliefs, which can lead to a sense of disconnection and lack of purpose.
To achieve spiritual rest:
- Practice gratitude
- Spend time in nature
- Engage in prayer or meditation
- Engage in activities that promote a sense of awe and wonder
- Reflect on your values and purpose and engage in activities that align with them
Everything we’ve discussed above creates sensory exhaustion.
Sensory rest involves taking a break from sensory input and creating a calm and soothing environment.
We live in a culture of constant stimulation and noise, bombarded with sensory input from technology, advertisements and other sources, which can make it difficult to find quiet and calm. A lot of us also live in urban environments with constant noise and visual stimulation.
To achieve sensory rest:
- Limit exposure to overwhelming sensory inputs: loud noises, bright lights, etc.
- Create a calm and soothing environment with soft lighting, pleasant smells and calm music.
- Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as taking a bath or spending time in nature.