In the May issue of HRM Magazine Online, a new precedence was set around an employer’s responsibilities for ensuring the workplace is a safe environment. Mentally and emotionally safe, that is. While organisations are being asked to do more with less, there is only so much a person an do before they eventually burnout.
Once your workers do crash from exhaustion, you not only have no-one to do the work but it may cost you millions in workers compensation claims. As highlighted in this case, a court or tribunal is more likely to award in favour of the employee. This means there is more than one incentive to be proactive about wellbeing.
While this article focuses on the workplace, the principles can apply to all aspects of your life. When you are constantly on the go at home or socially, you also put your health at risk.
Your mind, body and soul were not made to be on the go 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You need rest. But it is more than just physical rest you need to maintain your optimal health. In fact, there are seven types of rest you need to function at your best.
Mental rest – You only have one mind and when it burns out it is a long recovery back to health. Your brain is a powerful tool, it protects you from injury and illness. It sends out signals that it needs rest in order to continue protecting you. When the brain is overworked it can no longer do its job, you can no longer think clearly and burnout is just around the corner. When you give your brain a rest, it has time to replenish its energy so that it can continue to protect you from harm.
Physical rest – Like your brain, your body also needs rest. It can only go so far before telling you to slow down. However, it is still important to do some form of exercise. Swap high intensity exercise for gentle movement routines which improve circulation. Gentle exercise can include: walking outside in nature, restorative yoga or massage therapy. Gentle exercise routines will give your body the rest it needs relieving muscle aches and tension. As a bonus, gentle exercise will prepare your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.
Emotional rest – relationships, personal and professional, can leave you feeling exhausted. That is why setting boundaries and knowing the limits of what you can and cannot provide will serve your emotional health well. Each day you take on a certain persona others expect of you. This persona prevents you being your true self and after a while it becomes exhausting. You need space and the ability to express your true feelings and feel comfortable to admit when you are scared, vulnerable, anxious or just not okay. When you get into that headspace you start to feel alone or no-one knows the real you which can lead to mental health problems like depression. It is important to have someone you trust to talk to and be your genuine self with.
Sensory rest – Each day you are faced with white noise from all angles; from people, digital devices, bright lights, traffic, music – and life. After a while it leaves you feeling exhausted and overloaded. That is why it is important to find time, even 20 minutes, to be alone in silence. To switch off and recharge your internal batteries. At night, turn off all mobile devices and other distractions, ensure your bedroom is quiet and dark for rest. Give your senses a chance to fully recharge so that you are refreshed and ready for what the next day will bring.
Creative rest – When you spend your life creating it is only natural that the creative juices may risk drying up. When this happens it is important to find inspiration in the things, people and places that light up your creative side. Find what motivates and inspires you and go there. Visit a museum, an art gallery, the beach, take a walk in nature and open your mind to inspiration. Soon your creativity will be flowing again.
Social rest – While being social with friends and family is good for your health, too much social time can leave you drained. It is important to set boundaries and block out time in your calendar to balance social activities with rest. Be clear on the people you enjoy spending time with. Know who inspires you rather than drains your energy and have a plan to manage those relationships so that they serve you well.
Spiritual rest – This does not necessarily mean religion, although for some people it can. Spiritual rest allows you to reflect and understand how you fit into the bigger picture of your life purpose in the community and an appreciation of your contribution to the greater good. By understanding your why – your purpose for doing what you do – you will feel a greater connection to the world around you.