The Power of Rest

By Erin Ewart

If there’s one thing we’ve learned these past few years, it’s that rest is essential to persist through the challenges life consistently throws at us.

Especially for those of us working in social impact, it’s important to find a balance between taking action and supporting others and taking care of ourselves.

And yet it can feel hard and scary to actually take a break, even when you know deep down it’s what you need. 

That was true for me when I was planning my sabbatical – I knew it was absolutely what I wanted and the right thing to do, but it was still terrifying to think about stepping away from my business for an extended period of time. 

I feel so fortunate that I was able to take this time off, and I think everyone deserves to take longer career breaks periodically to rest and reflect. But even if a sabbatical is not in the cards for you right now, taking intentional time to rest is something we can all do. 

If you’re wondering how to make this happen for yourself, I’ll offer a few thoughts: 

1. Consider the kind of rest you need, and start building it in to your routine.  “Rest” often makes us think of sleep, but did you know there are actually seven kinds of rest we all need? Consider which are most important for you and how you can start to experiment, even in small ways, with brining them in to your days and weeks. A few things that have worked for me include: short walks around the block in the mid-afternoon; a no-meeting day each week (amazing if you can swing it!); and a solo personal / professional retreat several times a year, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

2. If you’d like to take a sabbatical yourself, learn more about the benefits and research whether your current organization has a policy in place. If not, consider advocating for one.  Retaining top talent is one of the biggest things employers think about, and providing more time off is one of the easiest things they can do to keep their people. It’s much easier, and less costly, for them to manage without you for a few months than to find someone new to replace you. And if you’re self-employed, start mapping out the steps you would need to take in your business to make a longer break possible. If Brené Brown can do it, so can all of us!

3. If you’re currently searching for your next role, it’s essential to build rest into your process. It is so easy to burn out during a job search, and taking time to restore your energy will help you stay true to your goals and pursue the opportunities that are right for you. Also, get clear on how much time off is ideal for you and look at how much paid time off (PTO) employers are offering, and whether people at your target organizations actually use their leave. When you do find a new role, consider negotiating a longer break before starting to give yourself time to rest, decompress, and start your new gig with a clear mind and more energy.  

I hope these spark some ideas for you, and if you have tips for how you’ve incorporated rest into your life or taken extended time off, I’d love to hear them!

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