In the early years of my journey as an entrepreneur, it was normal to work twelve to fourteen hour days. I was building and growing my business non-stop so that meant working from six o’clock in the morning into the late evening hours. I didn’t know how to stop. At the time, I thought that was what I needed to do to get my business off the ground.
Oftentimes our default mode is to power through. To ignore the warning signs when our bodies try to alert us that we’re pushing it beyond the brink and that we need to slow down.
Hustling and grinding all hours of the day led me straight to burnout-ville. And it wasn’t pretty. I completely bought into the hustle mindset that if you aren’t always working, I wasn’t doing enough. Living in New York City reinforces this. Rise and grind is the mantra.
After pushing myself too hard landed me in the doctor's office, I started making better choices. Now I heed the signs and listen when my body needs to rest or take a break. My eyes will start to burn when I’m staring at the screen for too long, my shoulders will become really tense when I try to squeeze too many things into my day. I’m not prone to headaches, but when I do get them, I know it’s because I’m in stress mode or it’s been too long since I’ve actually taken a rest.
Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry, believes in rest as a form of resistance. She regards naps as more than just naps but a way of slowing down, pushing back on capitalism and grind-culture so we can reclaim our time. Rest looks like daydreaming, sitting in silence, slowing down, and naps, she says. Our society demands of us to push ourselves to the brink of burnout and exhaustion all in the name of capitalism and productivity. This brainwashing of having to be bigger, better , faster, harder, has cost us and has us believing that we are not deserving of rest. This idea of prioritizing rest over running yourself ragged is literally pushing back on the systems that make us feel guilty for slowing down and taking a nap.
Building your own business can be extremely exhausting, and because you love the work so much, it can be easy to just work all the time and not take any time off. But the truth is, we are much better business women when we can prioritize our health and well-being. We are no good to our clients and community if we are not operating from a place of fullness and high energy. We go into self-employment to experience more expansion, freedom, and flexibility, but the more we neglect our self-care, the less we experience these things.
I can’t stress enough the importance of taking time away to recharge and replenish. Whether that’s closing the laptop at 7:00 pm, scheduling vacation time, or taking on creative passion projects even if it’s not related to your business. These things give you energy, not drain you of it.
It's okay to give yourself permission to rest. Here’s how:
- Take baths. Immersing yourself in a warm soak with essential oils and bath salts is a glorious way to melt tension in the body. Read your favorite book, pour a glass of wine, and light a candle for ambiance. Let yourself soak for up to thirty minutes. You’re guaranteed to float out of the bathtub.
- Meditate daily. Whether it’s a five-minute meditation in the morning or before bed, taking time to center your mind creates the mental space for you to think clearly and be less reactive. Everyone has five minutes in their day; even a little bit of time goes a long way.
- Exercise regularly. Working out is a great way to process and channel any stress in the body. You don’t have to break a sweat for this to work. You can even take a restorative yoga class. The point is to get your body moving and release any stagnant energy that can be toxic to the body.
- Take naps. Give yourself permission to re-frame naps as no longer something that you have to feel guilty about! Take a fifteen-minute (or longer depending on how much time you have!) break during your day to nap. Restore yourself and just let your body rest.
- Set your boundaries. Know what your limits are when it comes to work and protect your energy. Prioritize your needs in order to do your best work and fill those needs first. Sometimes this means saying No, asking for help, or simply logging off work at a set time at the end of the day.
- Slow down. Our society teaches us that you have to speed up to increase output and get ahead. While it seems counterintuitive, sometimes slowing down can be even more effective towards making real progress. When we slow down, we are less reactive and become more intentional in how we’re working, what we’re doing, and who we’re being.
- Take time off. Sis, Imma just have you go ahead and put that vacation time on the calendar right now.
Make time for rest —often. Give yourself permission to take what you need to replenish yourself so that you can go out in the world and kick butt.
**This post is an excerpt from Rest Culture, a chapter from Ariane’s forthcoming book, Dreaming on Purpose due out Fall/Winter 2022. Sign up to Dreaming + Doing digest to learn more and be the first to know when her book drops!