Happy New Year y'all! I am sure that its going much better for you than it did for Mariah Carey..
So, why am I writing to you about taking rest when we just got off a long, much needed break? Aren't I two weeks, or a month too late?
Actually, being on these holidays is what prompted me to make this inquiry. Because absence from work and routine does not guarantee rest. Bustling between relatives, chasing flights, finding the right parties to attend, calling your bank to increase the credit card limit, taking the right angled bikini shot and picking the right filter can all be exhausting, even if you are on holiday. After clinking champagne glasses at midnight- on that very stretched card, poof; you are back at your desk asking "where did the holidays go?" and moaning "I need another holiday".
I recently travelled home to spend my 29th birthday and Christmas with my family, both a first in the absence of my grandmother. I was met at the airport by at least 10 cousins and for the next 7 days I did not have a single moment- apart from bathroom breaks- to myself. I estimate that we had 45 people staying in a 3 bedroom house- we turned the study into a bedroom too, so 4 bedroom house and a one bedroom garden cottage. It was chaotic, but beautiful. I would not change a single thing about it, but I couldn't wait to get back to Joburg- which becomes a silent sanctuary over December.
I came back on the 26th of December and I vowed that I would not start working until the 28th! Then I got a text alerting me for a potential client that wanted to meet on the 27th. I run my own legal consultancy, so its my duty to at least hear a matter out and I dutifully set up the appointment. While preparing for the meeting, it hit me that I don't know how to rest. While I was at home, I had back to back meet ups with relatives and friends - some of whom I didnt even get to see and now I was back to more of the same.
I spent the next two days in pyjamas and binge watching movies in an attempt to do this 'rest' thing. I then turned to the oracle that is Facebook to get expert opinions on the definition of rest. The responses went from: "rest is the time between when your eyelashes flicker to blink", "whatever reenergises your body and head so you can think and move forward", to "all those things especially sleeping in or watching mindless TV, or even just lying in the sun" and lastly " long walks chats with someone you love talking about nothing serious."
I dont want to start this new year already eyeing the Easter Holidays! A friend was already telling me how she will get 20 days off by just taking 6 leave days! If you want to know more on that hack, hit me up below and I will put you in touch. I want to cultivate a culture of rest as part of my daily routine- not only in sleep but in other ways too, it is imperative to my self care.
I love books! I make it a point to ask for books for each birthday and last year I asked a friend, who is an advocate, for Thrive by Ariana Huffington. After reading some of the book, I stopped because I felt that Ariana was telling people to slow down on work after she had sold her business for $315 million to AOL! I was like "let me do that first and then I will rest!" But this holiday I dusted off my copy of Thrive and reread it to find some daily rituals I can practice going into the year!
Here are my top 5 rest routines I am challenging myself with in 2017.
1) Quality Sleep: 7-8 Hours a night
As an entrepreneur that works from home it is very difficult to unplug and go to sleep, especially towards the end of the month. However according to a study by the Harvard Medical School's Division of Sleep Medicine "sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus, and our ability to access higher level cognitive functions: the combination of these factors is what we generally refer to as mental performance." Therefore, to be smarter, you have to sleep more; not less!
The most sleep deprived people are actually women-working moms to be exact. Between handling work and young child they get an average of 5 hours of sleep a night! Did you know that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for captured enemies? and you can die from a lack of sleep! As women, this is the only time I will condone sleeping your way to the top!
Now sleeping isn't getting into bed and going through your social media timefeeds until you fall asleep only to get a rude jolt from your alarm clock a few
minutes hours later!You need to completely shut down before you get into the bed and be prepared for sleep.
Here are a few things you can do to cross over into la-la land:
- Make your bedroom darker (maybe buying lower voltage bulbs, or only using lamps) and keep it cool;
- Practice deeper breathing before bed (I've tried this, it does work)
- Banish all LCD screens from the bedroom at night (cellphone- charge it in the lounge and buy an alarm clock, laptops, TV, tablet)
- Get a nice set of pyjamas that will excite you to get into bed.
2) The Power Nap
If you can't quite make the 8 hours of daily sleep, for a good reason; try the next best thing: A power nap!
If you decide to nap, you are actually in good company with the likes of US Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and John F Kennedy, inventor Thomas Edison and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Churchill said “Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.”
Their naps would vary from 20 minutes to 2 hours and even up to 6 hours! The most bizarre nap I have heard of is that of Salvadore Dali, the artist, who would nap for 1 second! He called it "slumber with a key" where he would sit in a chair, holding a key and place a plate on the floor so that when he fell asleep the key would fall onto the plate and wake him up! Apparently Albert Einsten did the same, so it may be worth a try!
|Swans Reflecting Elephants by Dali (maybe he found inspiration during his nap)|
Lunch hour is the perfect time to nap because the truth is, no one eats for the whole hour! Lie in your car, or close the door to your office for 20 minutes!
Side note: These are all men, can we take up the challenge of becoming famous women nappers!
We live in a hyper connected world where we probably know more about whats going on around us, than we do whats going on inside us.
I did not think I was addicted so social media until I watched Simon Sinek's talk on Millenials in the Workplace, which you can see here. I warn you, do not watch this video if you aren't ready to make some changes, I was not ready!
I think at some point we each need to go on a social media hiatus for at least 30 days- unless you need to use social media to make money. But don't use it to bring you comfort or relevance. Boredom is good, it teaches you to be creative.
We use social media to mask so much frustration, depression, loneliness when we need to be connecting with real people. I want to be more vulnerable, present and available to people in my life and stop thinking in hashtags!
I am coming off social media from 8 January to 31 January- I am nervous and excited, but it will be wonderful!
This is a concept I came across recently, so I am also learning!
Minimalism is about owning exactly the right things, for you and your needs, and no more than that, so that you then have more time, energy, and resources (including money) to spend on the important stuff.
Stuff costs money and it takes up alot of space- a lack of both can lead to stress-which does not help to rest. My apartment is crammed full of boxes- its like I am constantly moving- but thats because I dont have enough room for everything.
Living with less is not just about getting rid of junk and making extra cash from selling your horded items. It is about living with passion and purpose and less about living for things. I have read about people living with just 50 items and up to 300 items.
|An apartment with 288 items|
I am planning on going to grad school soon and I keep stressing about where to leave my belongings for a year! If I can cut everything down to 300 items or less, that will eliminate a lot of stress.
I really need to examine my relationship with things as I think a lot of us do. Would we still want to be rich if there was nothing to buy? I am working on dissociating success with material possessions and minimalism is step 1! I want to own stuff and not be owned by stuff. I will rest easier with less stress about stuff.
Its about frequently asking the question " Do I need this?"as sale season is upon us with stores trying to clear space for the winter collections.
5) Quiet Time
Meditation or prayer or power hour or stillness.Whatever word you decide to use.
We all need at least 5 minutes or an hour to connect with our source of wisdom and power.I use this time to read my Bible and pray.
I will admit that when I dont get enough sleep I steal from my Quiet Time and days when I miss Quiet Time just turn out very stressful and unproductive. I am out of my flow and out of sync with purpose.
This year I will not compromise on my Quiet Time, I will be there for it on time like I would a date with Drake!
At the beginning of the holiday I thought rest was binge watching Quantico while eating cheese flavoured chips, trifle and chicken wings. All I feel is lethargic and guilty, and I dont think rest leaves you feeling restless and self loathing. Escapism is not resting or relaxing. I dont think you can take rest if you are not grateful for what you have right now - it may not be much, but be thankful for whatever you have- so my bonus step is expressing daily gratitude for what has happened in the day. It doesn't have to have happened to me personally, but something good that happened to a friend or in the world! Try doing that right before bed- count up to 5 things!
I think implementing these simple steps on a daily basis will allow me to cultivate a culture of self care, where I can take rest daily instead of waiting for the next public holiday.
What tips do you have?