As many of you know from social media, I, and my wife, are currently dealing with a situation that is causing immense stress. I’ve written before about mental health, HERE, and the situation certainly matches scenarios talked about there. In this blog I’ll explore ways of dealing with it that have helped me.
I run my own business and it’s often been said and written that business owners are amongst the most susceptible to stress simply because of the relative difficulty in switching off. It’s certainly true for me, in that I find my thoughts drifting to my business at inconvenient times of the day and night.
I’ve written and spoken before on the value of physical exercise as an outlet and means of coping, and it’s always been that way for me. I’m a triathlete and have to have a decent training plan each week, and aside from the physical and mental benefits it brings me, I enjoy planning out my training schedule each week.
The beauty of having my own business is that I can work in my training around my business to a large degree.
And so it helps.
But I’m also a qualified personal trainer, and whilst I don’t do a lot of that kind of stuff, when I do I am always keen to tell people about the need to rest too, and not just that, but to actively PLAN rest as an activity in their training week.
Physically, the body needs time to recuperate from training sessions, and rest days are a vital part of that. It helps restore energy and allow the body to do what it needs to do.
In recent months I’ve been slowly upping my training ready for the summer races, and my body has been quietly complaining. I’ve had rest days each week but they’ve seemed almost accidental, as if I ought to have been training but hadn’t been able to, and it’s made me grumpy, as if I’m missing out on training.
I realised recently that I wasn’t following the advice I give to people, to actively plan rest days as if they are a training activity in themselves.
So that’s what I’m now doing. My training schedule includes planned rest days where I’m doing nothing physical. And I find myself looking forward to them because I know they are a vital part of my regime.
Without the rest days, I can’t perform as well as I should.
And I’ve started doing similar in my work and business too. I’d realised that a lot of the stress was made worse by my not switching off, not spending time looking after my family and myself by working too much.
I was having rest days, but again they were almost accidental and sometimes resented by me.
But I realise that rest days (and by that I don’t mean weekends per se) are crucial in maintaining mental health and building resilience. If I don’t plan in time to take off work, I never will take time off and my performance will suffer as a result.
As someone who is self employed, the minimum annual leave entitlement doesn’t apply to me or others in similar positions. But it should. And even if it doesn’t, we have the power to make it apply ourselves.
The minimum annual leave entitlement is there for a reason, and it would be foolish to ignore it. I’d been booking in foreign holidays with the family, and Xmas, but not actively booking in any other time off and I realised I was missing out on…
From now on, I’m actively planning in 2 days a month (plus family holidays and Xmas) on weekdays where I won’t work and spend time with my family or doing stuff for myself.
These are my rest days, and they started this month. I’m already enjoying them, and I don’t feel guilty about them. Of course there’s the potential I lose out on some work if a client wants me on those days, but I’m not shifting them because if I do, my family and I will lose out in more important ways.
The body needs time to rest.
The mind needs time to rest.
But sometimes we are too busy to make these things happen.
From now on, I’m not too busy to make the time for the important things.
From now on…
Till next time…
Ps in other news, my next race on 12 May will be my 50th since I started racing back in 2010. I wonder whether I’ll ever get to 100 races? It would be nice.