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The Reality of Rest

We all fall into the trap that hustling and running around are critical components of today’s society, but the reality is that it's more important to give yourself a break.

Anyone who knows me understands that I'm a person who's on the go most of the time. Activity fills my bucket. I have a driving belief that my next experience is always going to be an adventure! 

I'm not talking about something grandiose, either. Meeting a unique person in a shop in a small town. Having an encounter with a stranger that turns out to be unexpected and interesting. Working on our daughter's house to repair, paint and give it her touch. The possibilities are endless.

I eagerly enter each day with anticipation that something amazing is sure to occur. Ever since I can remember, I have seen life as robust, with opportunities for me to look around the next corner for something completely new. Always being on the go has a price, though.

I'm not good at resting. Never have been. My endless yearning for wonderment runs counter to slowing down, even for a moment. The energy I pour into others while also getting them to see life from a brighter perspective is exhausting. 

I'm not complaining—I'd have it no other way. It's just that the science of expending energy affects me greatly, as I'm sure it affects you.

Most people I know either run themselves into the ground with countless tasks that they attack and, at times, accomplish, or they sprint as if there's no end to the race and then explode emotionally. This results in a few days off, either from your body slowing you down because you didn't pay attention or from you taking a mini vacation just to remove yourself from the hectic pace.

Bursting is as unhealthy as collapsing. We convince ourselves that this isn't the case. We tell ourselves that our company, department or project would surely fail if we weren't constantly diligent and present. I fully believe in self-worth and self-assuredness in life. However, if we delude ourselves into feeling that we're irreplaceably valuable, then we lack the most important "self"—self-awareness.

So last weekend, I decided to be intentional and embrace the reality of rest. I put down my phone, went out with my wife and friends for a fun Friday night of music trivia and some drinks, and even slept in on Saturday morning! I limited my drive to always be doing something productive. That resulted in watching a movie, getting ice cream after making dinner in our Instant Pot, and even squeezing in a nap. Just one day of slowing down helped me mentally, emotionally and physically.

The next day, I went to church, washed our cars and sat down to do a little writing. Limiting my activity didn't hurt one bit, and as far as I can tell, the world was still spinning. I was on social media, but barely. Later on, I picked up a book to do some reading, and I even started a puzzle—all without a screen in sight.

We can't advance the cause of well-being if we don't take care of ourselves. Rest is needed so we can get back in the game, stay active and thrive.

This week, break the pattern of collapsing or bursting. Encourage others to do the same throughout your family and your workplace. Build in time for rest. When you do, you'll see that you actually have more energy and time than you expected! 

Steve Browne, SHRM-SCP, is chief people officer for LaRosa’s Inc., a restaurant chain in Ohio and Indiana with 11 locations. The author of HR Unleashed!! (SHRM, 2023), HR Rising!! (SHRM, 2020) and HR on Purpose!! (SHRM, 2017), he has been an HR professional for more than 30 years.

Illustration by Phil Marden for HR Magazine.


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