Resisting the pull of work…

Why we should rest & some ideas how...

Summertime is here – despite the rubbish weather! The kids are out of school and it’s time for a breather. A rest…

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/tomwang (adapted)

Photo courtesy of ©123rf/tomwang (adapted)

But taking a break isn’t always easy, is it?

Here’s why we should rest & some ideas how

Despite it the fact that I love summer and the change in routine the school summer holidays bring, I also struggle. I struggle because I realise how much routine helps me to get things done.

Photo courtesy ©123RF/convisum

Photo courtesy ©123RF/convisum

Productivity is boosted by a well structured ordering of things – diary, eating, socialising – it helps keep things balanced and disciplined (usually! :0).

I reckon the reason I struggle in the summer is because I fight this change. I strive to work around the child care, the impromptu bar-b-ques, the absence of colleagues who are on leave.

I try to keep up the pace and do everything else. But in order to work well with troubled kids, we have to rest well too.

Here’s why we need a proper break…

  • Body break – routine is good for us. But rest needs to be part of it. Daily, weekly, monthly and annually, we need to build in times when we rest our bodies. More sleep, more fresh air, earlier nights all help. Whatever our job, we need our bodies functioning well. Let’s give them a rest!
  • Mind break – resting our body must include our brain. High levels of concentration, stress, problem-solving and sheer hard work, take their toll on us. Not least on our thoughts. During the routine of life, even when we’re psychically not doing anything, our minds are often still racing. We need to pull the plug out of the wall.
  • Soul break – we bring ourselves into our work. In a way, when working with troubled kids, we are the intervention. Just as out muscles and minds need a break, we need to re-fuel who we are. Doing the (non-work) things that we love re-charges us, re-inspires us, invigorates us. Doing so will ensure that when we re-join the race, we have something to give – a refreshed self.

So, what can you do to apply these ideas for yourself?

Here are a few of the things I’m doing – they might help trigger some thoughts of your own…

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Go with the flow – take a break…

This year I’ve planned things a little differently. A little more time off and a little less striving to keep the pace up.

Heres how:

  • Evenings off – I normally work quite late. Often into the wee small hours. The temptation to do this is great when the day is less productive due to other demands. For the month of August I’m (trying!) not to work in the evenings. Early nights are good for us, so I’m going to get a few – so far it’s worked pretty well.
  • Blogs off – for the next three weeks, I won’t be writing new blog posts. Lots of folks are away on leave. I need to re-group and build in some slack to my schedule. Letting the brain lie fallow for a week or two may well help energise new material when things kick off again in September. For all these reasons, I’ll be circulating some links to my subscribers, pointing them to previous posts, rather than writing new stuff.
  • Weeks off – for the first time a five years, I’m taking two full weeks off work this summer. I used to do this every year. Not doing it this last few years was a mistake I intend to rectify this time. The last two weeks of August will be time off – no email, no blogging, no YJB stuff, no networking – just time off.
  • Brain off – even when I’m not technically working, I tend to have work on my mind. This is mainly because I read a lot of work-related stuff – journals papers, books on childcare or criminology, blogs, etc. During my time off, I’ll be switching all this off. I have a couple of books I want to work on – one is the second in Bernard Cornwell’s King Arthur trilogy I started a while back, the other is the latest Wilbur Smith.

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Maybe these things are good for me but not for you. We all have our little foibles. Here are a few things to consider regardless…

  • Phone off – this one’s a killer. Only when you contemplate turning it off do you realise how much you’re glued to it. All the more reason to have it with you (for car breakdowns, emergencies, etc.), but to turn it off. Use it on your terms when you’re resting or on holiday.
  • Email off – ditto – use an out-of-office message to ensure people know you’re off the grid for a while. Then don’t keep checking it. If you turn your phone off, you’ve probably cracked it anyway!
  • Distraction on – read non-work stuff, watch the rubbish telly you keep meaning to catch up on – or the really good stuff (for me it’s Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards) – whatever grabs you! Indulge yourself…

Again, do the things you know will help you resist the pull of work and properly unplug – even a 24 hour period without these things can be a relief and help you properly relax.

Final word…

In the end, making the effort to relax (!) will have a pay off for the young people we serve. If we’re on form and rested, the service they receive will reflect that. And their chances of moving on successfully will increase.

What more reason do we need to resist the pull of work in the holidays?…

Question…

How might YOU benefit from a proper break? What 2 practical steps would help you to back off the throttle a little?

Please let me know – join the conversation by leaving a comment below or by clicking here.

The next step…

Looking after ourselves is our first responsibility. To help you with this, I’ve pulled together a little e-Book: Looking After No.1 – Self-Care for People Working with Troubled Children

Photo courtesy of © 123rf/Ion Chiosea (adapted)

Photo courtesy of © 123rf/Ion Chiosea (adapted)

Learn more about Looking After No.1 – click here…

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© Jonny Matthew 2015

Disclosure of material connection: The above book and DVD links are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers – or in this case will just be ace fun!  :0)

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