Permission to Rest

One thing that I see in common with the ambitious, successful women that I coach, is that they rarely give themselves permission to rest. Yes, you have a lot of things that need to get done: you HAVE to take care of things for work; you HAVE to feed your family; you HAVE to fulfill obligations to your extended family; and you’re dependable, so you make yourself available to your friends. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being diligent in all areas of your life. Except, when you forget to apply that same level of diligence to your own self-care.

Give yourself permission to rest. So often, we manage to take care of absolutely everything and everyone else before we take time to rest. Yes, all your other obligations and the people in your life are important. I am not denying that you have a myriad of responsibilities. But, the truth is that you also have a more pressing responsibility that is above and beyond everything and everyone else – you!

Claiming that you are your number one priority – above your partner, kids, pets, parents, or work – can be a radical concept. But, it’s essential that you understand this point. When you don’t give yourself permission to rest, the effects of the lack of rest eventually catch up with you. You begin to lose optimal fitness and health, which if left untreated, can manifest to something more serious from high blood pressure to cancer. You lose the ability to be focused and make clear decisions. Our brains were not designed to go nonstop. It actually needs rest and down time to be at its peak. As your fitness, health, and decision-making capabilities decline, you begin to doubt yourself and your capabilities, and it takes a toll on your self-esteem. The lower self-esteem and increased self-doubt may cause you to work harder, making you less likely to rest.

Giving yourself permission to rest is not just relegated to taking a vacation once or twice a year. In order to have your mind, body, and spirit operate optimally, you must incorporate rest into your daily life. Here are a few tips to help ensure that you get the rest that you so deserve and need:

Daily: Ensure that you get enough sleep. If you unable to get sufficient sleep during the week either because of work or motherhood demands (or both), plan to take short naps when possible or to sleep longer over the weekend. Studies show that this type of recovery sleep can help restore mental fitness. In addition to ensuring that you get enough sleep each day, spend a few minutes daily to completely unplug from the rest of the world through meditation or just simply doing and thinking about nothing.

Weekly: At least once a week, take an extended period of time to do some restful self-care. Take a gentle yoga or meditation class, get a spa treatment, or take a long walk in nature. The key is that the activity should make you feel relaxed.

Monthly: Take at least one full weekend off at least once every month to six weeks. Don’t make any plans, and don’t use the time to catch up on household chores and responsibilities. It helps to create a set schedule (e.g., 3rd weekend each month) so that everyone in your family or friends is clear that you are unavailable that weekend. The intention for the weekend is to rest and relax.

Yearly: Book down-time vacations annually. Typically, one week of vacation is no longer sufficient. It takes busy professionals several days to a week to completely unwind and shed their work, before they can relax. If you don’t plan for a sufficient period of time to rest, you will go back to work feeling exhausted. If you have young children and it’s impossible to have a truly restful vacation, then it’s important to schedule a shorter getaway that is just for you (or you and your partner). This will help you model great self-care for your kids and be more present and patient with them as well.

Giving yourself permission to rest is not a luxury! It is absolutely essential to your health and wellbeing. When you allow yourself to rest regularly, you increase your personal bandwidth, allowing you to make better decisions, improve relationships, and achieve greater success in all areas of your life.