How to properly unwind this August
After a stressful time, nothing feels better than kicking off your flip flops and lying down on a sun lounger somewhere warm and sunny. But it’s rather less nice if you find yourself struggling to switch off, thoughts of work and clients buzzing round in your head whilst you’re sipping on your drink by the pool. As business owners, we’re naturally very caught up in our work, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—but when that long awaited holiday comes around, being able to properly enjoy your downtime is crucial. Research published by Harvard Business Review points out that because business owners tend to be more passionate about their work, we’re also at a higher risk of burnout than your average employee. Similarly, due to the nature of what we do, our businesses often can’t function without us, so not being able to work equals no pay.
This is incentive enough to really let yourself enjoy that break—but the question is: how? We spoke to some of our favourite experts for their advice on properly unwinding this summer.
Go easy on yourself
“It’s important to accept that you’re a human being, not a robot. You can’t automatically jerk into holiday mode,” says behavioural change coach Gemma Perlin. “Give yourself space to unwind. It might take you a minute for the thoughts to stop whirring in your head, and for your hand to automatically go to check your emails. Release the pressure and acknowledge the fact that you can’t experience automatic zen.” It’s great advice—and you’re likely to find that if you don’t forceyourself to relax, that very relaxation you’re craving will come more easily.
Don’t get caught up in FOMO
The fear of missing out (FOMO) rages harder than ever during the summer months, when it feels like everyone and their cat is on a yacht in Sicily, living their best lives with a martini in hand. The reality, of course, is that social media shows us a highlight reel where footage from Heathrow’s cancellations, the Eurotunnel’s 12 hour days, and the all-too-frequent toddler tantrum is mysteriously absent. Tamsin Williamson is the founder of the Parenthood Coach, working with parents to help them lead more fulfilling lives. “Ask yourself what you want to do today,” she advises us. “It’s so easy to get really caught up in a comparison spiral during the summer holidays, where exposure to what other people are up to can plunge us into a storm of FOMO and inadequacy.” It might help you to limit time on your phone, too, or mute any accounts you find particularly difficult to follow. “Switch your attention ‘off’ from other people’s lives (whether online or in real life) and instead intentionally think about what works for YOU. That way, your summer break will feel a lot more ‘you-shaped’ and fulfilling,” advises Williamson.
Get to the bottom of limiting beliefs
It’s an interesting question: why do we find it so difficult to relax on our time off? If you’re feeling guilty for not working, Perlin suggests that we take some time to figure out what’s going on in the back of your mind, like not feeling deserving of rest and relaxation. “Let’s work out what underwrites this belief,” she says. “What would you like to believe instead about time off? We need to have a new, more useful belief to support you having a relaxing holiday that will leave you feeling refreshed, excited, and like you’ve reset your brain. The same way you give your body a break, you need to give your mind a break—or else you might experience burnout.” Perlin’s tip is to grab your journal and a pen. “Write down what you’d like your new belief to be, and what you can gain from that. What kind of holiday would you like to have, and what memories and feelings would you like to take back home with you?”.
Give your business space
Don’t panic if things have been feeling slow in your business this summer, and you’re fighting the urge to work all-hours to put things right. “The best thing to do when things feel slow is to rest,” says Vix Meldrew, content and course creation strategist. “It may seem counter intuitive, like you need to start hustling and grinding to get things to pick back up again, but then you’re operating your business from a place of almost desperation. You’re much better off taking a step back, realigning your mission and goals, and finding new creative ways to get business to pick up than frantically trying to force it to happen.” Spend your break reading, enjoying quality time with friends and family, and checking out a new exhibition or movie—inspiration strikes in the most unexpected places! If you’re really feeling in the mood for some light work, “it’s a great time to try some new content ideas and experiment with the offers or services you have,” advises Meldrew.
Practise radical prioritisation
It’s a simple truth: we can’t do everything. This summer, pick the things you do want to do wisely, and ditch the rest. Or, to put it more neatly, “learn to be okay with saying no to certain plans or people,” suggests Williamson. “If you’re constantly on the go all summer and say yes to every arrangement that comes your way, you may well arrive in September feeling just as knackered (if not more so!) as when the summer started.” It’s your summer, after all, so focus on the things that make you feel happy and rested. “Really consider how you choose to plan your precious time over the holidays, and remember that there’s so much to gain from saying ‘no’!”.
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