It’s that time of year when many people head off for their end of year holiday. Sometimes we spend weeks or even months dreaming about how it’s going to be on break. We imagine all of the rest and relaxation we´re going to get, but actually many of us come back to work feeling tired and resentful.
Three weeks ago, I wrapped up work for a while to go on rest. I wasn’t ordered to do it, but in the context of having an incoming baby, it seemed like a good idea. Three weeks is a long time and I was so set on all of the things I was going to do. But, now weeks in, I´ve realised that rest isn’t something that can be quantified. It’s about quality, not quantity.
How can we make sure that we actually feel rested after a holiday or break, no matter how long or short it is?
Rest is different for different people and everyone has a different perspective on what is restful. Oxford online dictionary defines rest as a verb where we ¨Cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength.¨
My experience this month has taught me that good rest needs to include three things:
- Care. You know, the main component of the word self-care. How do you treat yourself? How to you speak to yourself? If you are constantly nagging yourself to do things, worrying, or stressing over small stuff on your break, it is pretty sure you will finish up not feeling like you got enough rest. This rest thing requires being kind to yourself, meaning no punishments, being understanding and flexible with yourself when things don´t go to plan.
- Fun. Enjoyment/pleasure/amusement/play. How much fun have you had this year, and how often do you have fun lately? What does fun actually mean to you? If you´ve been finding things pretty fun-less, brainstorm some ideas about things you enjoy. I don´t think there is a minimum or maximum number of fun things you should do or a timeframe for them, but try add them in whenever it feels good to do so.
- Sleep. Ahhhh glorious sleep, that sometimes elusive beast. How’s your sleep been? If you´ve been working long days, carrying a lot of stress, or having to medicate yourself to get to sleep, you might want to take the break to have a look at your sleeping situation to see what can be improved for your sleep quality. Things like – room darkness, waking up without an alarm, going to bed earlier, room temperature, pillow quality and surrounding noise are some different ideas of things you could experiment with.
And some practical advice:
- Figure out what absolutely must be done in this time. Need to file some paperwork? Need to organise a budget or pay off debt? Need to go visit a particular person? Need to fix something on the house? Write down the things that absolutely must be done during your break, and when they need to be done by. Schedule them in with plenty of time so they get done without feeling like they bring down your whole holiday vibe.
- Having a plan or not. This will depend on you. Some people go through the year feeling restricted and forced to do things on other people’s time. Others prefer to have a routine. Do what works for you. It might mean getting up without an alarm, and planning your day once you get up. Or it might mean having set things that you do in a day. Again, whatever works for you, and take it as you feel like it, some days might be full of routine while others are free and easy.
All in all, I don´t know if you necessarily feel rested. I think it is more like feeling aligned, peaceful, light, and well. If you can sit with yourself and see how you´re levels of these are, that will give you a good indication of where you are at. On the other hand, checking out, or numbing, doesn’t help. We need to know how we feel and really feel it to be able to change it, so remember to look after yourself and take everything in moderation over the break too.