I did something on Friday (coffee and cake were included). I rested – on purpose. It was the most amazing feeling. For the past year, I’ve been working nonstop. When I’ve taken a day off of work, it was do something other than rest: take care of sick child, be with ill parent, or simply get my house in order because it was becoming chaotic. I even remember requesting a Friday off, only to come down with a fever on Thursday night. It was as if the word was against me. But here’s the thing: I often hear these same stories from others, especially leaders. So the fact that this past Friday was a day of rest for me and the world did not conspire against me was a major feat.
As leaders at work, in the home, in the community, or anywhere else, take a break is vitally important. We know all of the benefits of resting. It recharges the mind, body, and spirit. Resting reduces stress, helps your immune system, improve short-term memory, and can prevent depression. There are so many reasons to take a day of rest, yet our work culture promotes the opposite. Work, work, work, and work some more. It’s no wonder why people even work on their days off.
Last year, I had a coffee meeting with a friend and purposed to choose a time to just rest and reflect. Unfortunately, life and COVID struck and we both admitted that the resting and reflecting did not take place, but the idea was a good one, which is why I purposed to take last Friday off. The reality is that if you don’t have a plan for your day off (yes, I said plan), it SO easy to postpone taking it. So, let’s purpose to take some time off and having a plan for it by doing the following things:
- Think of what you’d do on your day off and write it down: It’s important to do this so that you can see it often.
- Plan for good, fun things on your day off: If your day off is filled with errands and catching up on emails, then you didn’t have a day of rest. You simply worked from home. Instead, watch movies, go to the park, order take out, or hang out with friends. Do anything other than some kind of work. This day is for you.
- Decide in your mind that this is an important day: We often postpone our day off because we don’t see it as important. Self-care is the new buzz word because people are breaking down (physically and mentally) from being stressed, overworked, and tired. Until you decide that a day such as this is important for you, you will continue to postpone it.
- Mark it on your calendar: I know this may sound weird, but I had the hardest time pressing the submit button when I requested my day off. Pressing that button made it real and it meant that others would know that I wouldn’t be at work. Yep, that’s what our work culture has made us feel- embarrassed for taking a break. However, once I submitted my time off, I immediately blocked my calendar so that others could not book appointments with me.
- Tell others: Well, if pressing submit made this real, then telling others made it even more real, but it needed to be done. I told my team that I would not be available Friday and I got the most amazing responses. “Good for you!” “You deserve it!” “Have fun.” This taught me something: those who look to you want you to be healthy and happy. Also, it shows them that taking time to themselves is jut as important as work.
Now, I do have to admit one thing: I made two calls on my day off, but they were important; however, two 10-15 minute calls over a 24 hours period it pretty great.
Taking time for yourself, especially as a leader, is one of the most important things that you can do. Leadership is not just about encouraging, motivating, and guiding others, it’s about doing the same for yourself. You’ll not only get the recharge that you need, but you’ll set a great example for others.
Keep leading and be safe,