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The Joy and Importance of Rest

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Whether you’re an intern or CEO, young or old, working outdoors or at a desk, the truth is the same: you need rest to stay healthy. Here are nine things by Thrive Worldwide about rest. What is the culture of rest like in your organisation? See if this sparks some thoughts for you.

Rest is really good

It promotes good mental health, boosts creativity, increases productivity, elevates well-being, reduces stress, improves mood, and strengthens relationships.

Sounds good, right? How much rest we need varies from person to person, so it’s important to consider what it means to you individually, how much you need, and how to implement it. 

Rest comes in different forms

The researcher Saundra Dalton-Smith says we need different kinds of rest: Physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory. We like this. It’s about “being” rather than “doing”, so you’re not resting if your body is still, but your mind is ruminating. Ask yourself whether you must prioritise one or more of these different kinds of rest.

Busyness should not be a badge of honour

All too often, overworking, exhaustion and busyness are status symbols for people. But let’s be clear: A person’s productivity is not a marker of their self-worth. We see this in clients we support; you might see it in yourself too.

Of course, there are busy times at work, and a little bit of healthy stress can even be good for you, but when it becomes overwhelming or puts people under too much strain, it is harmful and wrong.

We all need to say goodbye to guilt

Our team is driven by a desire to support our clients who work to improve the world. An obvious risk in this purpose-driven work is that care for others overtakes care for ourselves. If people over-extend themselves in this way, they might feel guilty about taking time to rest.

But this guilt is wrong and needs to be challenged. As we like to say, it’s impossible to properly care for others if you don’t care for yourself.

Take your leave

We want our team to take time off work and practise the different kinds of rest listed above. In the past, we’ve considered offering unlimited leave to team members, but we’ve seen that this often means people don’t take five weeks of leave.

So instead, our annual leave guidelines are for five weeks pro-rata plus the public holidays of the country where a team member resides. 

Flexibility is crucial

Though our ‘typical’ working hours are 9 am–5 pm, we like to discuss energy management rather than “time management”. This means responding to the energy each of us has for different activities at different times.

For example, some might prefer writing or being creative at certain times and scheduling meetings at other times. And rather than planning life around work, we urge our team to plan their work around life.

It lets them do the school run, meet a friend for lunch, or do the gardening. In previous team surveys, this is one of the big benefits of working with us. 

The typical working day needs a rhythm of rest 

We all need to eat, drink and use the toilet! It’s so important to have these breaks throughout the day. This might mean blocking out buffer time in your diary between meetings so that you are not ‘back-to-back’ all day.

An occupational health perspective can make a key difference

Sometimes, it isn’t a prolonged period of rest that a person needs, but rather some simple changes to their workplace or work practices.

An assessment with an occupational health professional can help understand what changes might be needed and recommend how to make these changes. 

Sabbaticals are part of a healthy life rhythm

We offer a paid two-month break to our team members every seven years. They can use this as they see fit.

It could be to pursue personal or professional development, do some research, travel or volunteer, and rest, recharge, realign and re-envision.

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