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Let Yourself Rest

Mindset Monday written by MJ Ryan, SheEO Development Guide

As you are well aware, it’s been a hard year. Covid and its effects on our livelihoods, trying to work and meet our children the social, emotional and intellectual needs, the isolation of work from home and social distancing, the endless lies, gaslighting and sowing of racial and social divisions at the top of the U.S government….We’ve all done our level best to be resilient, to adapt, to pivot, to cope. And from where I am sitting, tied to my headphones Zooming with entrepreneurs, we’ve done an exceptional job. We’ve reached out in community, given and received help in many forms, adapted and adjusted.

A couple months or so ago, I started to hear a common theme on my calls that has only gotten stronger as the weeks go by. Founders talking about going through the motions with less than their normal passion, a classic sign of burnout. They want to know what they should do for themselves, but mostly they’re worried about their employees. Everyone seems tired, less productive, and less enthusiastic for the work, they say. What team building activities can they do to help? I’ve made a few suggestions in that direction, like doing an appreciation session where people talk about what they appreciate about one another this year. It’s a great energy and happiness booster.

But mostly what I have said is that everyone needs to rest. To turn their minds off. Take the earbuds out of their ears and stop trying so hard to be productive. Do nothing. Not only to not work, but not worry about the emails/texts/Slack notifications and tasks piling up when you aren’t working.

In the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, a lot of the tech companies shut down completely at the end of the year precisely for this reason. With no one working, you don’t feel tempted to check on things because all activities have ceased. For companies who can’t do this, I suggest a rolling schedule so that everyone gets as many days off in a row as possible. After 50 years of working and observing myself and others, I am convinced that we ideally need 10 days in a row to restore—and more if you are really burned out.

I can’t tell you how many founders resist, saying they can’t possibly stop even when they are dragging through their days. But those who I’ve prescribed 10 days to and have taken me up on it have all come back feeling much better.

I know that such downtime is a privilege that not everyone has. Hourly workers, essential workers, those caring for sick or elderly parents or very young children—millions of us have to keep going no matter what. If that’s true for you, I encourage you to find ways to do what my mentor Dawna Markova calls, “a seven-pillow princess day.” It’s a day where you lie around doing exactly what you want, when you want, not beholden to anyone else. My single mother stepdaughter just had her three and five-year-olds stay overnight with grandparents in order to have such a day.

No matter your circumstances, to inspire you to figure out how to take downtime given your circumstances, I offer you this poem by Jeff Foster. And in the spirit of rest, Mindset Monday is taking time off. It will be back January 4.

LET YOURSELF REST

If you’re exhausted, rest.
If you don’t feel like starting a new project, don’t.
If you don’t feel the urge to make something new,
just rest in the beauty of the old, the familiar, the known.
If you don’t feel like talking, stay silent.
If you’re fed up with the news, turn it off.
If you want to postpone something until tomorrow, do it.
If you want to do nothing, let yourself do nothing today.
Feel the fullness of the emptiness, the vastness of the silence, the sheer life in your unproductive moments.
Time does not always need to be filled.
You are enough, simply in your being.

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