Why We All Need a Rest Day

Anyone who knows me even remotely is probably aware of my intense love for (and addiction to) coffee. “But first, coffee” barely scratches the surface of my undying affections for this caffeinated beverage. I drink coffee every morning before work from the same place – shout out to Metro Coffee in Santa Monica! – and without it, well… I will explain with a short anecdote.

One day I made the unwise decision to skip my morning coffee run because I was running a bit late to work. Two hours into the workday my boss requested that I please go get coffee immediately so that I would resume being a functioning employee.

But have you ever gotten to a point where not even a double shot of espresso will do the trick?

After 12 straight days of working filled with business trips and events and a LOT of overtime (sorry HR team), I was sitting at my desk staring at my emails. However, my eyes seemed completely incapable of communicating what they were seeing to my brain. I was basically blankly staring at my screen completely unable to absorb anything at all. I’d had my morning coffee, plus a couple diet cokes, and still couldn’t manage to focus.

Luckily my boss knew I’d hit a burnout point and pushed me to take a day off that Friday. Honestly, I wasn’t jazzed about the idea. It gives me serious anxiety to take days off work other than Christmas break. All I can think about is the ever-mounting pile of emails in my inbox that are unread. But I agreed I needed a rest day considering I couldn’t seem to be able to read my emails anyways.

Taking rest requires discipline on my part. Even on weekends I love making to-do lists of all the things I want to accomplish whether its errands or planning out a trip 6 weeks in advance. Taking a random day off when everyone else was at the office felt like a real test for that self-discipline. My chest felt tight with anxiety. What if I missed an important email? What if someone needed me?

But with some accountability by hanging out with my friend, I managed to spend the day actually resting. I went to my favorite coffee shop just for fun. I got to write, go for walks around Santa Monica, watch the sunset on the beach and go to Salt & Straw for ice cream. There was something different about taking a day to actively rest. I wasn’t sleeping, but mentally hadn’t felt so rejuvenated in weeks.

And I’m going to be honest – I had a lot of unread emails the Monday I got back in the office. We’re talking triple digits. But because I had rested and taken a day for myself to practice some self-care, I could actually read and comprehend those emails.

It’s still a process for me to take rest. But I’m starting by trying to take a long weekend here and there and proactively book time to do things for myself. (Turns out PTO exists for a reason?)

When we rest we aren’t letting anyone down. We aren’t dropping the ball. We’re actually building ourselves up to be the most productive, alert and focused versions of ourselves. And here’s a little secret I’m reminding myself of: the world will still keep spinning, even if I miss an important email or (gasp) a conference call.

 

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