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‘To Rest’ is on my Calendar: Switching Off in order to Switching On?

Do you need to connect or to disconnect? We tend to associate the verb ‘To DISCONECT’ with the verb ‘To Rest’. However, in order to rest you only need ‘To CONNECT’ with yourself, with your body and mind and to listen to your own needs.  If you respect your needs, you will get to rest every day, rather than only when you are on holiday.

Often when we feel overwhelmed by tiredness and fatigue, we tend to look for ways to rest our body: A massage, a relaxing bath, a week lying on a hammock at the beach… Wonderful ways to take a breath. Nevertheless, many times we forget to give our minds a breath.

You pay to receive a massage in order to relax, but your mind keeps ruminating about that unsolved issue for the whole session. Do you feel rested after all? 

The answer is no. Not long ago I went to France and I promised to myself that after running some workshops in England, I would have some days off there to rest and charge my batteries. I took my word seriously and I managed to rest. I spent two days without undertaking any professional task and without setting the alarm clock. However, I was feeling tired after all, and thanks to it I had a revealing realisation: Mentally, I was not resting or switching off. I was constantly having ideas, organising and creating new to-do lists for my business.

24/7 mode ON? Does that ring a bell? 

Up until recently, I had as many hours of free time as hours of work, as everything was mixed together. I would answer a work email at the beach and I would get distracted from work to talk to my mum and tell her about a film I recently watched. My professional and personal life are so linked, that I was not managing to switch off from my passion. Professional Open 24/7. I guess it is a natural tendency when you love what you do, and sometimes too when you don’t love it at all.

Life moves fast, and we have been told that the more we do the better, so we feel we need more hours. It seems like it is all about constantly increasing productivity! and that way, who would rest? There is always going to be an email to reply or a task to undertake. That is why nowadays it is important to find ways to prioritise Resting Body and MIND, or as Julia Cameron proposes with her book, The Artist’s Way:

What You Will Learn to Do is to Rest in Motion, like Lying Down on a Boat.

That is what I am learning, thanks to the Artist’s Way and many other tools, so today I am going to share some ideas which have allowed me to rest and switch off in order to switch on!

Set Time Boundaries? Work when you work and rest when you rest

Did you know that it takes us 20 min to get our focus and concentration back after every time we check our smartphones?

When we try to multitask, our physical and mental energy halves by two or as many tasks as you are trying to perform, and therefore your productivity reduces too. That is why I believe it is important to separate work from rest and to decide how much time you can spend on each action.

The idea that we can Multitask is an illusion that makes our lives much harder.

My dad-in-law is a children book illustrator and he works from home. He wakes up early at 5 and works until the afternoon for lunch an nap, later he rests by gardening, cooking or watching a good film. He travels a lot and is flexible and he has always invited me to create a structure for myself so my entrepreneur soul rests. However, I wanted to stay flexible and be able to adapt to circumstances. As many of you may know, when you launch your own business the to-do list for it is endless! I love my profession, and I tend to work without even realising it and to try and do everything at any time. In my case, it was easier for me to respect the work time frames than the resting ones, and that way I was exploding my mind, and forgetting that focusing on one single task is compatible with flexibility.

The first step is to set time boundaries in which you give the same importance to rest than to anything else. Set a space on your calendar for resting, and respect it… If it is not on your calendar, you won’t prioritise it.

Once that you have prioritized resting, you can create a flexible structure with specific times for work and rest, and if an unexpected work opportunity pops up, you can recover the resting time later as you would recover hours of work.

You can create strategies that help you respecting your own boundaries such as let people you live with that every time you are wearing headphones it means you are working, or let your clients, bosses and colleagues know that you are going to check your email in two or three specific times of the day and that your telephone will be on plane mode at night.

Resting Mentally? Find Your Own Way

To set a time to rest our bodies is relatively easy, but how can we rest our minds? It is not about leaving our minds blank. We only get to rest mentally when we connect with the present, and with our bodies, so we can listen to our needs. Even when we sleep, we connect with our subconscious mind.

There are many techniques such as Mindfulness, which take us to deep states of relaxation and rest by inviting us to connect with the present and tidy up our thoughts.

However, you are the only person who can find the magic formula to rest your body and MIND. And for that, you need to listen deeply.

Maybe you get to rest deeply through Yoga, Morning writing… Maybe you get to switch off from distractions by doing something you really love, and you connect that way with the present and with yourself. According to my grandma, To have a hobby is essential to rest mentally. There are people who rest mentally by dancing. Others meditate. Others read novels. The idea is that you find your own way, and you make room for it on your calendar.

However, regardless of what it is your resting mentally formula, there is something that is fundamental for all of us: Doing Nothing and Sleeping.

¿Sleep = Rest?

Did you know that sleeping lost hours cannot be recovered or compensated by sleeping more on another day? These hours accumulate and little by little they end up having an effect on our health.

It is recommended to sleep 8 hours per day but it is not proven that every single person needs to sleep the exact number of hours. What it is known, is that by sleeping less than 6 hours we don’t allow our system to finish the resting cycles and that sooner or later is going to have effects on our ability to function.

And what if when I sleep I don’t rest? Do you spend hours in bed but you don’t manage to sleep? There are different tools that you can use to learn how to rest.

Not eating the 2h before bed and cutting caffeine from lunch helps! Creating a sleeping schedule so your biological clock little by little gets regulated helps too! Having the same sleeping schedule, or at least sleep the same number of hours each night will help you resting better!

In Australia, my biological clock would never fail. I used to go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6am. When I returned to Spain, I realized that this schedule was not compatible with the Spanish lifestyle. Here people have very late dinners, and if I was going to eat at 9:30pm I was not able to get in bed half an hour later with a full stomach. To start with, I tried to maintain my schedule because I am aware that I am a morning person, and I loved it. However, soon I decided to adjust. To give you an idea, a satisfaction session in Madrid usually finishes at 8:30pm which means I don’t get home until 9pm. That is why I have now managed to readjust my biological clock, so I go to bed at 11:30pm and I wake up at 7:30am. It is not always like that, but I notice that my biological body is regulating.

To have a biological body is like having an inner alarm that tells you when it is time to sleep, and when it is time to wake up. A great tool for resting better.

Is resting a waste of time? No, and even less if you write your dreams down when you wake up. Your dreams are like letters which give you so much information from your subconscious mind. To start with probably you think you won’t remember your dreams, but as soon as you get the habit of writing each morning, you will notice how you remember more and more each time, until one day you get to have a lucid dream, and take the best out of your rest. (Dreams are the proof that our minds don’t need to switch off completely to rest, they can rest just by connecting with our inner world and with the present. If you sleep, sleep. If you work, work.)

Do you have NO time? Rest MORE then.

After reading this article I imagine some people are probably thinking…How can I get time to rest more? If I am not able to put all the things ‘I have to’ do on my calendar, how I am going to add something else such as resting? Well, the more stressed you are, the better idea it is to rest. When you rest, you will increase your productivity as you will work better. It is better to work 2hours at 100% than 5hours at 30%.

I click on publish and I log out… It is time to rest… And I invite you to do the same: Set a time in your calendar for resting each day, and create a sleeping schedule.

How do you rest mentally? Tell us in the comments, your way can inspire others.

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