A long time friend of mine, Kate, is running a very successful start up business in hiring our vintage furniture for weddings and other ventures. It's been hugely huge to get set up, build clients and design the systems and infrastructure to support them. Sidenote, you can check out her business here. Kate asked me to write today about how she can switch off from the business not just at night when it's time to recover and re-energise, but on a bigger scale, like when she goes away for a holiday with her young family next week. She explains thatshe is consumed with her fledgling business and happily devotes every spare moment she can outside of parenting and other life duties. But she knows she needs a break so that she can return recharged and ready to go for the busy summer wedding season ahead.
Kate works for herself, yes. But there are commonalities here that we can all relate to. Firstly, she has limited time off. We do too. In order to be able to live the good lives we want to, we must have energy to sustain us. Energy comes from a process in the body called rest and digest. That's the part where your body switches into cleaning and repairing and digesting mode. It also comes from being able to switch off from a heavy mental load. Most of us have seen the article circulating about how women in families take on a higher cognitive load than their partners. Whilst this may or may not be true for you, the concept is still applicable. Carrying a high mental load, like starting up a small business, running a team, running a house full of people who need you to oversee them, working in general is an overall burden to our physical/mental/emotional system. It's no problem if you can recover through switching off, exercise, sleep or downloading. It is unsustainable, however, to run for periods of time without being able to 'put down' your load.
Kate is basically asking me how she can put down all the things she is carrying, safely - so that nothing bad happens to her business, whilst she takes time out.
Here are some ideas for Kate, and anyone else, who is looking for a way to truly relax.
- Hand it over: If you can give the task/job/responsibility to someone else in a verbal contract, with all the training and support required, it means you can park it without so much worry. Think about those times where you have left a job and how free you felt after you handed your tasks over for someone else, and you were no longer contracted there. You were skipping with delight. In Kate's instance, she may have to hire someone, and have a longer lead time to feeling free. It might cost more than she wishes, but it also may just be worth it.
- Scale back: In the months leading up to a break, plan how you will scale things right down, so that there will be minimal inquiries/things to hand over or manage from a distance.
- Be available only once per day: In Kate's instance, a small business may still require her to be available, no matter how safely it is in someone else's hands. Schedule a time per day to be available and communicate that widely. Adhere to this.
- Mentally park your problems: Write them down on a to-do list, so you won't forget what needs to be done. That way when you start to fret you can remind yourself they are safely recorded and ready for your next 'hour of power'.
- Embrace the holiday: When you are in your holiday 'time' put down your devices and pick up a book, a beach towel, a glass of something fizzy. Practice being in the moment. If you find yourself drifting towards stressful thoughts do a 'pattern interrupt' and physically go for a walk, journal your thinking or talk it out. Get that stressful energy cleared through action, so you can recover.
How do you unwind?
Here are some other related articles I have written on this important topic: