We all need rest to stay healthy. It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern or CEO, young or old, working outdoors or at a desk. Here’s nine things we at Thrive know about rest. But what is the culture of rest in your organisation? See if this sparks some thoughts for you…
Rest is really good! It promotes good mental health, boosts creativity, increases productivity, elevates wellbeing, reduces stress, improves mood, and strengthens relationships. Sounds good right? How much rest we need varies from person to person, and so it’s important to think about what it means to you individually, how much you need, and how to implement it in your life.
It comes in different forms. The researcher Saundra Dalton-Smith says we need different kinds of rest: physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory. We like this. It’s about ‘being’, rather than ‘doing’, and so you’re not really resting if your body is still, but your mind is ruminating. Ask yourself whether you need to prioritise one or more of these different kinds of rest.
Busyness shouldn’t be a badge of honour. All too often, overworking, exhaustion and busyness is a status symbol for people. But let’s be clear: a person’s productivity is not a marker of their self-worth. We see this in clients we support, and you might see it in yourself too. Of course, there are busy times at work, and a little bit of healthy stress can even be good for you, but when it becomes overwhelming or puts people under too much strain, it is harmful and it is wrong.
We all need to say goodbye to guilt. Our team is driven by a desire to support our clients who work to make the world a better place. An obvious risk in this kind of purpose-driven work is that care for others overtakes care for ourselves. If people over-extend themselves in this way, they might feel guilty about taking time to rest. But this guilt is wrong and needs to be challenged. As we like to say, it’s not possible to properly care for others if you don’t care for yourself.
Take your leave! We want our team to take time off work, and to practise the different kinds of rest listed above. In the past we’ve considered offering unlimited leave to team members, but we’ve seen that this often means people don’t take five weeks of leave. So instead, our annual leave guidelines are for five weeks pro-rata plus the public holidays of the country in which a team member resides.
Flexibility is crucial. Though our ‘typical’ working hours are 9am – 5pm, we like to talk about “energy management” rather than “time management”. This means responding to the energy each of us has for different activities at different times. For example, some might prefer writing or being creative at certain times, and scheduling meetings at other times. And rather than planning life around work, we urge our team to plan their work around life. It lets them do the school run, meet a friend for lunch, or do the gardening. In previous team surveys this comes up as one of the big benefits of working with us.
Your working day needs a rhythm of rest. We all need to eat, drink and yes, use the toilet! It’s so important to have these breaks throughout the day. This might mean blocking out buffer time in your diary between meetings so that you are not ‘back-to-back’ all day.
An Occupational Health perspective can make a key difference. Sometimes, it isn’t a prolonged period of rest that a person needs, but rather some simple changes to their workplace or work practices. An assessment with an Occupational Health professional can help understand what changes might be needed, and recommend how to make these changes.
Sabbaticals are part of a healthy life rhythm. We offer a paid two month break to our team members every seven years. They can use this as they see fit. It could be to pursue personal or professional development, to do some research, to travel or volunteer, and also to rest, recharge, realign and re-envision.
If you’re feeling stressed and want to talk to someone, you can book a coaching session with us. Or if you’re a leader wanting to know how to support your team better, chat with us.