There’s a long-held belief that great leaders work harder and longer hours than everyone else and taking time off can make them seem lazy or like they don’t care enough about their job. REALITY CHECK – this attitude of being relentlessly on can lead to stress, anxiety and burnout.
We simply cannot physically or mentally work at 100% capacity all of the time. We need to work smarter, not harder and realise the importance of rest.
Research demonstrates that workplace performance improves after rest periods and recovery, even if the work being done was enjoyable and not causing significant stress. It’s easier to imagine this process when thinking of a muscle. While muscles don’t grow and strengthen without consistent exercise and attention, they also require rest. The same goes for building mental strength. It is the ‘pause between the effort’ where we build strength before continuing to exert ourselves.
Plan to Pause
How often do you consciously plan to pause, take a rest or take a step back and be still? The CEO’s I work with have hectic schedules, full of back to back meetings and to-do lists that go on and on and on. It’s exhausting! I work with them to schedule time in their busy day to PAUSE. This time to pause and create space in your mind actually makes us more productive.
Here are some great ‘pause’ ideas:
Mindful Breathing: Practising mindfulness is a great way to build resilience and self-awareness. One of the best ways to practise mindfulness is simply breathing. Rather than focusing on breathing deeply, focus more on taking long, slow out breaths. Inhale and then exhale slowly while releasing tension and stress from your mind and body. Set the timer and breathe for two minutes – this could completely turn your day around.
Mindful Eating: We all have to eat and a mindful pause can be as simple as enjoying a conscious meal while engaging your senses. Too often we rush through the day, eating on the go, without pausing. Instead, take a moment to take notice of the flavour of your food, the smell and the texture. Listen to the sights and sounds where you are eating to truly root yourself in the present. Eating is an easy way to schedule a pause into your day because they usually take place at predictable times.
Writing: A great way to practise self-awareness and sort through the clutter in our minds is writing. Using a notebook or journal to write down your thoughts can help to remove mental blocks, uncover patterns in our thoughts and behaviours and shift our mindset from negative to positive.
Reading: Reading is a great way to whisk your mind away to another place, so long as you aren’t reading something related to your work! Reading 10 pages of a book a day is a healthy habit to get into to create that pause in your day or evening.
Listening: Music is wonderful for decreasing stress levels. Take a break and listen to the calming music of your choice or a podcast, while you rest or pop in your earphones and go for a walk.
The Creative Pause: Do something creative and relaxing to recharge. Paint, draw, do a craft, puzzle or colour in a mindfulness colouring book.
Exercising: We all know the benefits of exercise. Taking an exercise pause can be as simple as going for a walk or as intense as doing a short workout. Walking is a great way to get a change of scenery. Stretching or doing a workout is great for your circulation, especially if you have been sitting for a long period of time.
Disconnecting: Being connected 24/7 can make us feel as though we are always on. Taking a screen break is a great way to recharge your batteries. Put your devices out of sight during meal times and while you’re engaging with family and friends and notice the difference to your mental state.
It takes courage to hit the brakes in the face of a mounting to do list, responsibilities and demands. Though those who have learned how and when to take breaks will understand the power of a pause. Pauses are actually the ultimate productivity hack because they allow us to do more in less time. So rather than working harder and burning out, step back and take the break you deserve!
To hear more about this topic, invite Dr Jodie to do a virtual keynote for your business on Bolster Against Burnout and Boost Wellbeing or get in touch to find out about Mind Strength Coaching Programs.