We’re heading into the Easter weekend and I need a break. Something’s not feeling right.
My workload has been creeping up and I’ve been having some unexpected pressures on the personal front. I’m sensing the toll it’s taking on my mental health, so I’m being proactive about it. I’m taking a proper restorative weekend off.
This post is partly a plan for myself as we go into a long weekend. But hopefully it’ll make you stop and think. Don’t wait for burnout to strike. If you’re feeling anything like I describe, take a long weekend to work on it.
I’ve toyed with digital declutters already. It’s where you cut down on optional technology and create an agreement with yourself for when and how you use technology that you’re addicted to (for me: email).
But it feels like I need more this time. I need to turn off the brain and recharge.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling the effects of daily over stimulation. If I’m not thinking about my business and the ideas-a-minute I get when listening to a podcast, I’m reading email, listening in a conversation and thinking hard about my work.
I’ve been keeping to a strict rule of no devices or laptops an hour before bed. If I don’t, I lay down in bed and I struggle to turn off my brain as conversations from the day fill my thoughts. Despite sleeping 6 to 7 hours a night, I wake up feeling like I never went to bed in the first place.
COVID has forced a rapid transformation of the home into the workplace. Now that home is also the work place, we all need a rapid re-skilling: managing our mental health.
If you’re in a leadership position, even more reason to do this. You have a greater responsibility to keep check on your mental health because it has a direct impact on your team’s relationship with their own mental health.
Don’t just sleep, but rest. I’m going to go to bed early and read. I’ll naturally wake at my usual time, but I’ll get up and pee, maybe drink a cup of tea, then go back to bed and read some more.
I can feel sleep is needed, but the active kind of rest is needed too. I’m going to do some yoga, but stretching and massage could be another form of active, restorative rest.
And I’m going to spend more time with my kids—listen to them, see what they want to do, play board games and just be in their presence.
I will either put my devices away for the full weekend, or impose some limitations on the kind of information I’ll consume. In the same way we can be mindful of the food we put in our body, we can be mindful of the information we put in our head. We’re all over stimulated. I often feel the need to fill every gap in the day with content – from listening to a podcast while I wash the dishes to scrolling social media when I walk up the stairs to the toilet. This means Whatsapp messages too. Even when I turn notifications off, I still feel the urge to open the app to see if I’ve any new messages.
I’m going to be disconnecting from my network too. Despite living socially distanced lives, we’ve all over compensated by being more in touch with people than ever before, including our colleagues. But how much of that is going deep on an emotional level? This kind of relationship consumes more energy than it restores. So instead I’ll be speaking to friends or family who provide positive, supportive vibes—the ones who I can really talk to, be vulnerable and really dig in to how I’m feeling.
A pen and notepad is essential to a restorative weekend. I have an entrepreneurial approach to most things, whereby I try stuff with the mindset of “how hard can it be?” and “I’ll figure it out.” As a result, stuff goes wrong and I might worry about letting people down. It plays on my mind. I’m going to show myself some self compassion by taking time to write down my thoughts, worries and concerns. Instead of thinking “poor me” I’ll remind myself that “this happens to everyone”. I could write in my journal as if I’m giving the advice to a friend.
Taking the time to dig deeper into the thoughts and emotions I experience through the week is a chance to identify what parts of my work I find the most enjoyable and the ones I don’t. I can reflect on the things I procrastinate about and ask myself why. There’s tonnes of writing prompts out there. I could also note down what I observe and describe it, which really brings me into the present moment. For example, how am I responding to people and things, how are my stress levels changing over the weekend, what thoughts regularly surface, what am I noticing about my environment?
Nature to Nurture
I will immerse myself in the beauty of the outdoors, even if it’s my neighbourhood or my back garden. I will try to notice everything as if meeting it for the first time. I’m going to leave my device at home, because I’ll be tempted to be more productive and listen to a podcast or be entertained with a story. This is a time to listen to the birds and the bubbling water in the valley.
Although art galleries are not an option, I might also be inspired through books or radio plays—to appreciate the arts and let them do their work of triggering an emotion in me.
Finally, lighting a few candles and listening to some mystical flute is probably on the cards as well. I will see if I can feel a sense of belonging to the earth, feel acceptance and purpose.
Sharing my intentions
Letting people know about my restorative weekend does two things: it holds me accountable to actually go through with it (keeping off the social networks where I announced my intentions) and it might inspire other people to do the same. If I do my self-work and do it transparently, I’m more likely to inspire others to follow suit and talk publicly about mental health.
My 6-Step Plan for a Restorative Weekend
- Active rest
- 30 min Yoga routine
- Lots of kids time
- 10 min meditation AM and PM
- Limited information consumption
- 3 min news in the morning
- Long chats with friends and family
- A school friend
- My brother
- Pick up the journal whenever I sit
- Print out the journal prompts and stick it in the back
- Daily walks in nature
- No devices
- Noticing wildlife and spring flowers
- Sharing my intentions
- Post to Twitter
- Send post to 3 friends