There’s a theme that’s been coming up a lot for me and with clients these past couple of weeks: REST
I’ve personally had a very intense past few months and so now I’m intentionally prioritising my rest.
In fact, at the moment, I’m prioritising my rest over exercise.
This means I’m making time to be still and quiet, to get plenty of sleep, to be in nature, to have relaxing baths, weekends completely work free (including in my mind) and to do regular meditation.
I obviously want to function at my best during the day, but without adequate rest and ample time to completely switch off, not only would my health start to suffer, but I wouldn’t be able to perform optimally.
So, this is actually as much about my wellbeing as it is my quality of work and output.
Oftentimes, when we think about taking time rest or to prioritize sleep, we kind of look at it as something we should do because it’s ‘good’ for our health … which of course is very true.
But taking it a step further, it’s also necessary for your ‘peak performance’.
Athletes actually rest as hard as they train, and we need to do the same – rest as hard as we work.
When we properly stop and rest, we allow our entire nervous system to calm down and the body comes out of chronic low-medium level stress or fight/flight mode and into a calm, unified state.
Our breathing also slows down, which further relaxes the body. The body feels ‘safe’.
Slow, deep breathing through the nose, activates the parasympathetic nervous system a.k.a the ‘rest and digest’ system (…this might also give a clue as to why eating on the go and rushing food is not good for you!).
We know, of course, that intelligence resides in the brain and many people also give weight to their ‘gut feelings’ but did you know that science has more recently shown that the heart has an intelligence of its own too?
What this new science also shows is that when we rest, we allow the brain, gut and heart to sync and harmonize … our brain waves and heartbeat become more cohesive when we’re in this relaxed, non-stressed state.
And it’s in this state that you get those moments of sudden clarity or inspiration!
… It’s when you’re not purposely thinking about a solution to a problem or trying to come up with creative idea, that something just comes to you seemingly out of nowhere – the kind of thing we like to call a ‘brain wave’ or an epiphany …the intuitive insights and the genius ideas.
From a physiological point of view, there are so many important reasons to rest such as cellular renewal, detoxification, restoration and reenergizing the bodily system.
But because I understand that rest is also where a different kind of ‘work’ is done (the serendipitous, intuitive, genius ideas kind of work); I have even more reason to intentionally prioritise rest. And I get my clients doing the same.
I’ve mentioned in a blog post before that I typically plan my work around having the last week of every month ‘off’ – well it’s partly for this very reason. Although I may not be doing or achieving much work in the conventional sense that week, as I see it, I am doing very important work by allowing space for ideas to percolate and bubble up while I’m not even trying.
…I come up with some of my best ideas and insights during this week off!
So, the take-away today is that rest, sleep, quiet time and meditation are as much about your well-being and physical/mental health as they are about your peak performance, creative insights and bigger picture thinking.
It’s time to see rest not as a luxury, but as an absolute necessity!
Especially for people in positions of leadership who need the time and space to be truly preemptive, strategic, creative and intuitive – whilst in a non-stressed out state.
And to clarify, I’m not suggesting that you need a week off every month (although wouldn’t that be great?!) But what I am suggesting is that the harder you’re working the more you also need to rest, not just for your health but also for your competitive advantage and the greater good!
Here’s to investing in your rest,
If you think you might need some help to better prioritise your wellbeing and rest, apply for a no obligation consultation where we talk about what you’re struggling with and decide between us whether or not one of my programmes would be a good option for you – email firstname.lastname@example.org