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  • Writer's pictureBarb Bickford

How can leaders get just a little more rest?

Updated: Jan 29, 2023

A woman with her arm raised and her hand in front of her mouth, yawning deeply.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I usually don't. But this year, I made an exception. I resolved to get more rest.

While outwardly my life is calmer, I still manage to shortchange myself on both passive rest (such as sleep, breaks, and calm contemplation) and active rest (such as hobbies, walks, play, and social events).

Furthermore, having experienced prolonged post-COVID brain fog, I really don't like that dull unfocused feeling or how it affects my memory. I want a clear mind so I can serve my clients, be truly present with family and friends, and easily find creative solutions.

A man in a suit and tie is looking a business papers.  His hands are in front of his face and he looks tired.

Neurologists tell us that a host of negative health outcomes have their roots in the lack of sleep. My own experience tells me that I don’t work well on a short night’s sleep. Do you?

But sleep isn’t the only type of rest you and I need. We need various types of rest (physical, mental, emotional, social, environmental, creative, and so on) to live full, healthy and active lives.

A woman with red hair is hunched over her laptop, hand on her forehead, looking tired.

Knowing how much I need rest is probably why I'm collaborating with a neurologist and a former at-home caregiver to offer online workshops about rest. We talk about the various types of rest, give the participants a taste of several types of rest and help them identify ways to get just a little more rest in their lives.

I’m also co-leading a retreat to help people move through transitions toward new beginnings. As I write this, I realize why these retreats are so powerful: they provide deep rest. We meet at a lovely location (environmental rest) to do intuitive art (active creative rest), gentle movement (active physical rest), journaling (mental and emotional rest), conversation (social rest) and downtime (when participants chose the kind of rest they need). Since I find leading transformative events to be fun (creative rest), the weekend will be restful for me, as well.

A middle aged woman gazing off to her left, looking depressed
"The opposite of play isn't work; it's depression." -- Dr. Stuart Brown

During a recent online symposium about the future of work, I learned two things about rest: 1) That creative play is not just a nice thing to spark innovation, it's ESSENTIAL to innovation and overall mental health. In other words, I should play more and not feel guilty about it.

2) That if I ever again decide to sit through 30 hours of online meetings over three days, I should also plan for at least 60 hours of sleep or other types of rest to recover! And always include breaks in long programs.

Barb Bickford playing her mandolin and smiling.

So how am I doing with my New Year's Resolution? Well, in the evenings, I am:

-- playing my mandolin (creative rest),

-- reading stories in French for fun (mental rest),

-- journaling (emotional rest), and

-- going to bed earlier (physical rest).

And I'm feeling better! This helps everything I do.

How could getting just a little more rest help your leadership?

Photo credits:

#1 - Karollyne Hubert on Unsplash

#2 - Rodnae Productions on Pexels

#3 - Alexander Drummer on Pexels

#4 - Shane on Unsplash

#5 - Barb Bickford If you are interested in online workshops or in-person retreats about Rest or Transitions for your group or organization (or yourself!), contact me​.

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