It seems like everyone is overworked at the moment. Even people who aren’t ‘officially’ in the workforce are overwhelmed and struggling to find the time to rest.
But is that lack of time only because of external circumstances?
Hands up if you’ve ever:
- Ploughed on with an excess of work, waiting for someone to notice how much you’re doing
- Continued managing a project alone when you should have a team of five
- Taken on extra tasks to make things easier for others, even when the favour is rarely (if ever) returned
- Bought into any notions that whatever you’re doing you ‘should’ be able to do with the resources you currently have (even if your body, mind, heart, soul and friends are telling you otherwise)
- Kept trying to get it perfect when ‘good enough’ was just fine
And the list could go on.
The thing is, no one is going to force you to rest.
In fact, if you appear to be coping and perhaps even thriving in your current conditions, no one is going to magically see that you’re overloaded and heading for burnout. They’re going to keep piling extra things on you because you’re the one who says ‘yes’.
Why would anything change if you keep showing that it’s fine? Sure, you might be voicing (occasionally) that it isn’t fine, but your actions tell a story that there’s no need to change something that is working (for your organisation or your boss or your family at least).
You’re the one who gets it done, brilliantly, and on-time.
Which can be a nice feeling… momentarily. ‘I’m reliable! I’m trustworthy! I’m great at my job! They like me!’
Until it’s not sustainable anymore. And truthfully, it was never really sustainable.
It can feel like a huge failure to need more support and more rest. But rest is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. All of us could do with significantly more rest in our lives.
Somehow it’s incredibly hard to give ourselves permission to take more rest, so we look for permission from others. We hope our colleagues, managers and partners will notice and let us off the hook. And sometimes they will say ‘hey, you look like you could use a break’… but it is up to you to take one.
No one can nap for you.
No one will hire extra staff for your team if you don’t insist upon it.
No one will quit your job and start your dream business for you (which can surprisingly involve a lot more rest than a regular 9-5 role).
No one will give you a promotion if you don’t tell them you expect one.
No one can take a sick day for you.
No one will insist you work from home or have a 9-day fortnight or change your hours.
Because truthfully, some of those changes involve work for others, and that’s where this all gets a bit tricky. A lot of people will tell you need a break, but they don’t make it easy for you to actually take one. The work doesn’t stop piling on when you’re not there. Which can make us reluctant to take a break, knowing there’ll be more mess awaiting our return.
What if resting isn’t just about ‘taking a break’?
So many of us think we can’t change our circumstances… and yet… look around. We all know people (people we often resent) who do less and still enjoy the same benefits of life. Pay attention to the words that float into your mind when you think of these people. Maybe words like ‘lazy’ ‘useless’ ‘bad work ethic’ ‘selfish’ crop up.
Interrogate these views… where do they come from?
How do I benefit from a belief that people ‘should’ work to a certain standard, no matter what the circumstances?
Do I actually work more because of a set of values that don’t necessarily support a healthy life balance for me?
Have I changed? Has what is important to me changed, but I didn’t realise?
We can become so used to doing everything we don’t see how we could ask for more support, expect change, do less. Resting can make those possibilities become more available. We can broaden our horizons, increase our self-worth and shift stuckness by stopping.
Resting isn’t just about taking a day off, it’s about spending time with yourself, allowing yourself to feel into who you are now, at this time in your life, and figure out what you really need to make life a bit more manageable.
Resting can be luscious, necessary, restorative and uncomfortable all at the same time.
And you know what?
You’ll never regret taking a rest.
Think about it. How often have you heard someone say ‘I really regret taking a rest at that time, it was the biggest mistake of my life’?
I’d venture you hear that a lot less often than you hear people say they regret working too much, giving themselves away to a workplace or a partner, or waking up one day realising they’ve lived too much of their life without consciousness to live with a touch more bravery.
And a helluva lot of rest.
My online course (which can help you re-connect with your identity and take action in your life from a place of confidence) is only the price of a book, more info here. Otherwise, if you’re looking for some support to feel strong enough to take the rest you need, or want some help with your small business, contact me here to start a conversation.
Main Image by Eirik Raudi on Pixabay