No time to sharpen the saw? It makes sense if you're tired!
I'll hit you between the eyes on this one: the truth is resting is NOT lazy. Regardless of what we have been raised to believe, looking after yourself, which includes resting, is one of the very best things you can do to improve your attention, productivity and communication. And who doesn't want to be more focused and present on what they're doing? Have better conversations with less confusion!? Or get more done in less time?
I was recently having a conversation with one of my fellow coaches, and we agreed: so many people come to us exhausted, fraught, stressed. Worried they aren't doing a good job in any area of their life. Even being the worst version of themselves inside their most important relationships. So they keep trying harder and harder, never taking time to 'sharpen their saw'. By this I mean, never stopping, recovering, resting, recuperating, refreshing. They're avoiding all the great R&R words!
Often the answer is simple: they are not prioritising their self care, least of all their rest. In the same way we need to rest our physical bodies and sleep for a good 7-9 hours every night, we also need to rest our mental and emotional engines!
So the next time you feel overwhelmed and are worried that if you stop, it will all fall apart: remember, the best thing you can do for yourself, your family and your work, is stop and rest. Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you there will be time for rest later. Rest is an essential aspect of loving, working and especially parenting. Funny, I was supposed to write 'living' in that last sentence - but 'loving' is better if we're rested too :).
Resting is a priority, a non-negotiable.
But it's a learned skill! Here are three ways to help you practice this skill.
#1. Give yourself permission to slow down: For many of us this is extremely hard – how can I possibly rest when I have kids to feed/dress/pick up, a board paper due tomorrow and a gift to buy?
My childhood message was 'there's always something to be done, so you should be doing it'.
But if you come from the angle that resting will mean you show up calmer, kinder and more connected with your kids, your colleagues and your partner - and more focused and productive to boot – think of resting as something you’re doing for your everyone's benefit, not just your own!
#2. Reframe what is rest and resist temptation: It's so easy to be tempted to ‘do something’ while we rest. I struggled with this, sometimes I still do. I'm always looking for the most efficient way, the most productive way to get something done.
But watching a movie with the kids while I am planning a holiday on the ipad, and stewing fruit only meant I never actually saw Shrek 2 from start to finish (despite watching some parts of it a hundred times!), I had burnt fruit stuck to my stove top, and I booked the wrong holiday date (true!).
Savouring our rest is a skill we can practice.
#3. Create a RESTING GO TO list: If you’re stressed or tired, the very part of your brain that you need to access all the cool information and strategies you've learned about how to deal with stress, goes offline. Crazy huh?
It's one of those 'clever' things our brain does in the interests of survival: if we feel stressed our brain registers a threat and sets off our fight and flight response. Part of this chain reaction is to change the part of the brain we use, which means we can't access all the sensible and creative thoughts in the conscious reasoning part of our brain. If you create a list, you're helping yourself remember!
AND best of all - Resting can be inexpensive and uncomplicated: Listen to your body. Pay attention to what you are feeling and sensing and use that information to decide the best option for resting, today. Here's a starter for 10 for your resting to do list. And speaking of 10 - sometimes a rest may only need to be 10 minutes to make all the difference. Just think about the impact a 10 mins nap on the side of the road has on your ability to drive, it's literally a life saver. Read a book, magazine
Have a nana nap for 10-20mins
Listen to music (and do nothing else)
Go for a gentle mindful walk
Curl up with a pet or child to watch a movie
Lie in a hammock and listen to the noises of nature