As I write, this is the last How To Guide before my own Summer break but really I hope the tips I share are as useful at any time of the year.
So often, it's assumed that all we need to refresh ourselves, is to take time off work and have a bit of a rest. But, is that really enough to truly 'refresh' our minds, bodies and energy?
Maybe what we need to do is something more specific to get the results we hope for when we take a break or have a holiday. In fact, there are considered to be several different types of 'rest' - physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social, sensory and creative.
Here are some ideas that may help you connect better to rest or restoration to produce the kind of refreshed feeling you've really been in search of:
Make a commitment - this is the first step to gaining a 'refreshed' feeling in your life. There is a world away between saying you're ready for a rest or a refresh and actually taking steps to achieve that feeling. Whether you're booking a holiday or not, the commitment to yourself to make a difference is key to create the change required for a refreshed feeling. Book it in a diary, write something on your whiteboard, add it to your priority list etc.
Physical rest - this sounds so easy but actually can be difficult to achieve. It might be that your body is so 'pumped' for action that even when you lie down, you don't feel the physical effects. Physical rest might mean afternoon naps (20 minutes can give us more energy), lying on the floor doing some proper breathing into your belly or simply moving gently to ensure you're not 'rushing' or getting stuck at the desk for example. Be really conscious of the physical rest you're having - is it regular enough, do you prepare your environment for it, do you breath properly to allow all your body to relax?
Mental rest - in a modern world of overload of information, our brains are required to be always 'on', producing a modern kind of exhaustion that we find hard to manage. Our brains weren't designed for this. Perhaps what you can do is observe how your day goes and what you achieve. Are you 'always alert' or 'on'? Do you feel less productive? Think about timing 'focus' and 'rest' into your day - that is doing one thing at a time. Think about taking 20 minutes of focussed time to do your emails followed by 5 minutes of staring at the wall while you boil the kettle. There's a fab book called 'Finding your Focus & Owning Your Attention' by Dr Amishi Jha which explains how our brains really work and that 'multi tasking' isn't a thing at all. If you're having a holiday, it works just the same. 30 minutes reading your book followed by 20 minutes staring at the clouds.
Spiritual rest - what ever your relationship with the spiritual or faith, we all have a deep need to feel 'at one' with ourselves or our surroundings. You can find different ways to feel 'connected' in what ever way that shows up for you. It might be simply being in nature or watching flickering flames. It might be meditating or having a meaningful conversation with a loved one. Take time to find connection with places, environments or people that somehow 'fill you up' rather than leave you feeling 'less' or tired.
Emotional rest - although emotions are part of everyday life, we can sometimes feel driven by them or exhausted by them. It's easy to say even, 'I wish I wasn't so emotional' as a way of describing feeling tired. One way to rest emotionally is to understand all the different types of emotion in the most nuanced forms to help understand better. Brene Brown's book, 'Atlas of the Heart' might be a good start. You could also try 'observing' your emotional state when in the company of others to work out who/what is draining you or leaving you angry/tired/tearful etc. Simply by understanding, observing and recognising our own emotional experiences, helps us work out how we can rest emotionally.
Social rest - you might assume this means saying no to socials! However, social rest can mean that we are more consciously choosing who we spend time with. For example, it can be tiring to be in social situations where you're required to 'act' or be something that you're not. Spending time with others (in work or play) when you can be more authentically you and be open and vulnerable will help you rest socially.
Sensory rest - how many of us go on holiday but still have our phones welded to our hands, still watching socials or whatsapping family? Perhaps you have the radio on all day in the background or work in a noisy space? Start by thinking about your senses and when you might feel overloaded. Do you have enough silent, soothing or restorative sensory experiences? You might choose to go digital free (I do for at least a fortnight a year although you could be digital free every evening all year round), turn off background noise, get into nature, wear earplugs, find a new quiet place to work or be. It links with point 2 too, allowing our brains and selves to deal with less things at once.
Creative rest - I love this one because it's like a real treat. We need to stay creative as micros especially but actually as humans. Creativity isn't just the ability to draw or sew but have ideas, think of new solutions or simply allow your brain to stretch and flex. You could adopt a notebook habit where you draw or write down snippets of ideas or observations. Perhaps you lose yourself in baking for a day or take yourself off to experience something new like a gallery or birdwatching. Allowing your brain to simply explore without agenda, outcome or purpose is really on the most fun ways to rest.