Stress management

Rest, rinse, repeat: The real recipe for resilience

- January 19, 2019 2 MIN READ

How’s January been for you?

I’ve just spent the past 10 days doing not much of anything, in the company of my two young sons.

We’ve been to the pool. We’ve been to the beach. We’ve taken afternoon naps and headed to bed early.

Slow, simple days with lots of rest.

In addition to looking slightly less drawn, I’m delighted to report that I feel more creative.

Sitting down this morning with a fresh diary and to-do list (thanks Santa) I scurried off a list of ideas and interviews that just 10 days ago alluded me.

Rest, huh? What a revelation.

It’s also apparently science.

In this excellent piece for HBR, researchers Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan talk about the lost art of recovery.

They argue that in our bid to be resilient business owners, we push ourselves to work harder and harder, ignoring the power of rest and recovery in our pursuit of success.  

According to research they collated, the United States loses $62 billion in revenue every year as a result of people working too hard, and forgetting to rest.

Because being in a permanent state of unrest can disrupt our sleep and keep us in a constant state of cognitive arousal.  

More fascinating still was this statistic: the average person checks their phone 150 times a day. That works out to be 2.5 hours a day (if each interaction was one minute long).

God help us.

Just stopping won’t cut it

So getting comfortable with recovery and rest should be top of mind for anyone looking for more success in 2019.

But crucially rest doesn’t actually mean just stopping tasks; like not checking your phone, or switching off the laptop.

It’s not that simple – sadly.

As Shawn and Michelle write,  just because we switch off the computer and shut the office door at 5pm, doesn’t mean we stop thinking about work.

In fact, many of us spend a huge chunk of our day and often night – even while sleeping – trying to solve a big problem or three.

And by doing so, never actually get any rest.

What does rest look like?

According to Shawn and Michelle, the key to resilience is trying really hard, completely stopping for a period and then starting again.


You know your work better than anyone. But what does rest look like?

Shawn and Michelle suggest:

  1. Taking a lunch break away from your computer and calling a friend for a non-work-related chat.
  2. Beginning a daily practice of mediation or journalling.
  3. Switching off phones and devices for more than an hour every night.
  4. And managing your stress outside of work; our recovery can be impeded by a hectic home life (hello, small children or renovation projects).

Whatever you choose, make the recovery time consistent and also, adjust to fit your schedule; as Shaun and Michelle point out, the value of rest and recovery rises in proportion to the amount of work required of us.

In other words, at the end of hectic working week, you need to double your rest and recovery efforts.

Sounds delightful to me.