Caring Leadership: 7 types of rest
This blog is part of a series on Caring Leadership, touching upon the four qualities – awareness, vulnerability, empathy, and compassion – that are critical for leaders to master during a time of crisis.
The pandemic continues to be an enduring challenge for resilient leaders all over the world. Many of us are experiencing its impact on our individual and collective resilience. Overperformance, while bearable for a short period of time, will decrease our resilience in the long run if not balanced with recovery time.
The concept of homeostasis helps to explain why recovery is so important. Homeostasis, from the Greek words for “same” and “steady,” refers to the myriad of processes used by living beings to actively maintain relatively stable conditions which are necessary for their survival. For example, our bodies maintain steady levels of temperature.
In the world of social sciences, homeostasis refers to how we maintain a stable psychological condition. When our brains and bodies are out of equilibrium as a result of overworking, we spend a vast amount of mental and physical resources trying to return to balance.
The need for recovery time rises in proportion to the amount of work required from us (from the book by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz)
A resilient employee is a well-rested one. However, rest isn’t just about sleep. Work by Saundra Dalton-Smith M.D. shows that rest should equal restoration in seven key areas of our lives.
- Physical rest. This includes passive physical rest (sleeping and napping) and active physical rest (doing restorative practices such as stretching, massage, and yoga). If you are struggling to keep your eyes open, it’s a sign that you need more physical rest.
- Mental rest. Mental rest can be achieved by having short breaks throughout your workdays, releasing your brain from a sustained focus on work. Signs that you need mental rest are a loss of concentration or recurring negative thoughts.
- Sensory rest. Our senses can get overwhelmed by bright lights, background noise, and computer screens. To catch up on sensory rest, try unplugging from technology, listening to the sounds of nature, or closing your eyes for a while.
- Creative rest. This type of rest is especially important if you are working on solving complex problems or developing new ideas. Creative rest helps to reawaken the wonder and the ability to generate inside each of us. Surround yourself with images you like or immerse yourself in art (read a poem or watch a beautiful movie).
- Emotional rest. If you find yourself easily triggered by others, you may be in need of emotional rest. This involves having space to express your feelings and being able to be authentic (not wearing any kind of “mask” to hide your true emotional state).
- Social rest. We experience social rest when we surround ourselves with positive and supportive people (and no longer spend time in the presence of people that exhaust us). Even when working virtually, we can choose in which meeting we want to more fully engage or opt to keep our cameras off.
- Spiritual rest. This type of rest is linked to our ability to connect to something bigger – a sense of love, belonging, purpose, acceptance. Meditation, prayer, or involvement in an activity that feeds our soul helps us to experience spiritual rest.
For you as a leader, are you getting enough rest in each of these seven categories? Which type of rest are you most in need of?
And to what extent do you actively support your team in taking care of themselves by getting the rest they need?
By talking about rest and how you make it work for yourself, you role-model the importance of balance and self-care for your team members – and give them permission to prioritize their own restoration time.
To master caring leadership in times of crisis, join the THNK THRIVE: Lead With the World in Mind program.