Read: 9min | Listen: 46min | Watch: 27min
Want to perform at your best? Then we need to learn how to rest.
Over the years, I've found that working hard comes naturally to me, however I've also discovered that I'm definitely not a natural when it comes to knowing how to rest.
So, I did some self-analysis and looked at the methods I've developed in the effort to rest, better. I'd love to share them with you.
In this blog, podcast and video edition, you'll find a comprehensive collection of mental tactics that I know will help you to maximise the rest you receive, during your holiday time.
Discover even more detail by listening to the podcast series (2 parts), or by watching the video.
- Create buffer time: Allocate 1-2 days to change mental gears before travelling away. This allows time for your brain to shift from work to rest mode. If we don’t create a buffer, we’re at risk of feeling like we’re still at work.
Wrap up without overloading: Resist taking on extra work in an effort to wrap things up before holidays. It may feel like the diligent thing to do, but it actually creates an even bigger mental chasm between work and the rest; requiring extra time to shift gear..
Embrace anxiety: Trouble getting to sleep before heading away? Just roll with it. Instead of getting angry with yourself, thank yourself, and write a to-do list as prompted.
Accept unfinished business: Learn to be at peace with the fact that there will be things that you can’t complete before you go. It’s an incredibly useful skill to learn, and apply to other areas of life.
Create a ‘return to work’ list: This might include items that couldn’t be resolved before you depart. Your work colleagues may even like to help you with this.
Simplify your workspace: Ahead of time, prevent the feeling of overwhelm creeping in when returning to work, by creating an extra neat work space. Leave no more than 3 piles of to-do items.
Manage notifications: Your digital devices should serve you, not enslave you. Turn off notifications for all phone/tablet/laptop apps that you feel comfortable with doing so.
Set enjoyment goals: Set fun, tangible holiday goals to ensure you create lasting memories. Eg: go to the beach everyday, read a book, take the family to an extra fancy restaurant once, try a new a location etc. Best of all, you’ll avoid the regret of forgetting to do something you’d hoped to.
Determine the holiday type: Be clear on the type of your holiday you want. Choose one, or blend a few types: Rest, Discovery, Relational etc.
Maximise transit time: Ahead of time create music playlists, download new podcasts to help pass the time enjoyably, and meaningfully. Eg: Our parent used to bring cassette tapes of Zig Ziglar on our trips to Brisbane in the 80’s and 90’s!
Create boredom moments: Yep! Boredom. This fosters an environment for your mind to wonder, this can lead to innovative ideas, simple solutions to complex problems, literally change the course of your life. Some of my best ideas have come from these times. (Tip: don’t mistake boredom with meditation. You do want to think, and let you mind run away on tangents).
Create patterns: Short term routines help free up your mental bandwidth, allowing room for the more fun things. Eg: where possible I place keys, wallet, sunglasses, in a similar place in every hotel. If you’re worried about security, change things up.
Batch work contact: In the event that you do need to respond to work requests, create a list and then deal with it in a single batch. Switch your focus 100% to work, then 100% back to your holiday, rather than having a foot in each camp.
Social boundaries: From the outset, decide whether you’re going to be spending time with friends/family who might live in the area where you’ll be holidaying. Balance catch up time with the locals, with time in the company of your holiday crew.
Capture mental triggers: In addition to the regular swag of photos/videos, capture extra photo/videos for use as mental triggers for later. These will serve as reminders to relax while back in the routine of work. Eg: An image could used as a computer desktop wallpapers or printed on a canvas, and videos can be used to remind yourself to relax.
Define your active time: Clarify with your holiday companions about how time might be spent. Eg: Parents might explain to their kids that they’ll initially need time to wind down at the hotel, before venturing out into the bustle of shopping centres and the beach. Friends might agree to do their own thing during the daytime, then come together at night. This is a casual way of clarifying expectations.
Understand how people recharge: Some of us get rejuvenated by being in crowds, others by being alone. Ensure everyone in your travel party knows each other’s recharge method.
Rest outside: Most of us associate ‘rest’ with spending inside, probably in bed or on the lounge. Instead of trapping yourself in your hotel room, try resting outside under a tree at a park or near the beach. You’ll be surprised at the difference the sun’s rays can affect your mood.
Eat mindfully: If you love rich, exotic food but you know it doesn’t sit well with you, plan to avoid or eat very little of it. You’ll feel physically and mentally more energetic, giving you more time to enjoy your break.
“Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit” - Unknown. (Something our Auntie Helen used to say!)
Utilise mental triggers: Setup computer wallpapers, print photos, etc., to prompt you to relax during your regular work week. Eg: I printed a custom mobile phone cover of my Antarctic day trip.
Create a false start: Keep your “out of office” email autoresponder on for one more day. Allow yourself a day (or half day) to ‘get on top’ of everything, before showing others that you’re available.
Review your calendar: Do you really need to return to back-to-back meetings (ever)? Create breathing space by being practical about booking in meetings with time think in between.
Stay on topic: Read your emails according to ‘conversation threads’ rather than ‘order of appearance’. This helps you to zone in on a subject, rather than jumping around in and out of unrelated email discussions.
Act on your ‘return to work’ list: Review and prioritise items on the list you developed before you departed. Cross off any ‘panic items’ that you added, and figure out why you wrote it down!
Restart notifications: While doing this, you may even like to keep some off! If you can’t digest all the incoming notifications adequately, then chances are you need to trim down your digital diet.
Positive associations: Plan to do enjoyable things during your first week back, and train yourself to love being back at work. Eg: While I’m away, I plan to spend time with friends over a coffee or lunch during my first week back.
Catch and release: Resist the temptation to do double time in order catch up on work. Doing this will re-introduce the stresses you had before you left. Acknowledge and release work that really shouldn’t have been on your plate in the first place.
Maintain the physical pace: If your holiday involved a lot of walking around new cities or hiking, plan to keep that up or taper down slowly. This will prevent you falling into a ‘down’ mood, as a result of your body missing chemicals (endorphins) it relished during your extra exercise.
Can we keep our holiday brain?
I'd love to hear your tips for staying relaxed, long after returning to work. Who knows, your comments may just help another reader!