I recently took a week off from work. It doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, however, being self-employed it is. One of the least talked about things about being self-employed is time off. Simply because there are a lot of presumptions around being self-employed, the luxury of picking your own hours, and a simple lack of knowledge of actually how many hours you have to work being self-employed.
Before divulging into the topic of rest, I just wanted to highlight that I have a full awareness that I have a luxury where I can choose the hours I work. And some people who are self-employed do choose to work less. But some choose or don’t have the option to choose to work more hours than if you were to be employed. And that is a huge unknown or missed point because of presumptions. Because of the stereotype, people don’t realise how when being self-employed you often don’t control your hours. If you are new in business, fighting for its survival, or working to expand, often you are working 60+ hour weeks. Some people choose to work less to support their families, or to take time away mindfully from work.
But also this post doesn’t just represent the needs and best intentions of those who are self-employed it also represents those who are employed. As both options can lead to the big B word… burnout. There might be more of a specific focus on creative practices due to the nature of my field but it all applies.
Having spent three years at university studying Fashion Media and Marketing, and then going on to running my business Thirty Five The Studio full time, there was little moment of pause within those four years. Also, running a business working from home, in the same room that I also sleep in, I started learning was taking its toll on me. Not significantly, however a few small thoughts of how the same pattern was becoming a bit more mundane and familiar were creeping in. Especially whilst working in an industry like social media and working alongside (amazing) clients, there are elements that are incredibly fast-paced and forever changing, but there are also elements such as physical content planning and structures that become very repetitive.
I am very grateful for my business, the position I am in, and the clients I work with. But, after doing the same thing for nearly two years, in the same spot, with no real break, I was starting to feel it. And the issue was actually more so highlighted to me when I read Grace Beverley’s working hard or hardly working. Within that book, it was shown to me the importance of rest not only for your quality of work but also for the quality of your life (if you haven’t read her book then I really suggest it because its one of my top personal development books).
We all have the importance of working hard towards our careers drummed into us since school. From choosing the right GCSE options and A-Level options to take us into university. Work hard, work hard, work hard, is a repeated motto. Which I am also an advocate for. I have worked hard all through my education, and honestly, I don’t think I could have gotten my business to where it is without hard work. However, one thing that doesn’t get taught to us is rest. The importance of rest in order to be working at our fullest potential. I don’t remember a time in school or university when we were told to take time to rest – even on holidays, there was a set amount of work to do.
Whilst reading Grace’s book, and doing a bit more discovery, I came across the notion of the seven forms of rest: physical rest, mental rest, emotional rest, social rest, creative rest, sensory rest, and spiritual rest. All are forms of rest we need at different points in our lives and after understanding these forms it came to me that I needed rest.
Now I did take a few days off to go jetting off to Palma in July, however to me, whilst a holiday wasn’t pure rest. It was rest from Thirty Five and was the first break from emails I have had since starting my business. However it was a physical holiday with a lot of walking and movement, and there wasn’t mental rest. Originally, I was meant to be away in September, however, we decided not to and I knew I needed to take some time away despite no physical holiday actually being planned. Specifically to fulfill mental and creative rest. A week off to step back, perhaps fulfill some life admin tasks, and really evaluate the next steps for Thirty Five in the run-up to the festive period.
Now coming to the end of my week off as I write this post, I can honestly say it has been monumental in my journey in business. I now feel like an advocate for rest on a new level. More than just a face mask and pamper night or a glass of wine after a busy day. In fact, I am now going to make a point of taking a whole week off every six months. Not going away on holiday or on trips away. A week, spent at home, but creatively and mentally resting and catching up on personal admin tasks that get pushed away when working.
I will be going back to work next week very creatively ready, with ideas for new services, new posts that will help expand my business, direction with the new assistant I am hiring, and having caught up personally. I can confidently say that rest is something we all need, no matter what we do for our careers or with our day-to-day lives. But one of the main parts of it is really understanding what rest we need and when. It could even be a rest from resting and working all hours. We need to be taught how to understand the forms of rest, and to understand our own needs.
But make rest a priority when you need it and you won’t regret it.
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