With the holidays looming just ahead, it's time to talk about the importance and difficulty of stepping away from work — not only during vacation time but in our regular, even daily, rhythms. Rest doesn't always mean sleeping more or taking a vacation — it depends on your unique makeup, priorities, season, situation, etc.
The resources below are for busy business leaders who feel the weight of responsibility for their business, employees, clients and community, and struggle to find the rest they need in order to deliver their best. The posts, podcasts and videos include research on why rest is important, ideas for what rest might look like and help for those who struggle to quiet their brain when it's time to rest.
1. Video: When You Feel the Need to Speed Up, Slow Down
Rest isn't just about sleep. Kimi Werner is known for a number of things, perhaps the most spectacular of which is the time she rode a white shark (you can see video of this event during her speech). Her TEDx talk examines the experiences that taught her the importance and power of responding to the pressure to speed up by deliberately slowing down. The results of her choices illustrate that you can often achieve more things — greater things — by refusing to rush. 20 minutes
2. Podcast: 10 Warning Signs of a Leadership Crash (and How to Fix Them)
Stephen Mansfield restores companies in the wake of leadership failures. Through his work, he's identified 10 symptoms that surface over and over again in leaders just before they fall over the edge, taking their business, family and colleagues with them. This conversation includes steps to take to avoid disaster if you see any of these warning signs in yourself or in someone you know. 51 minutes
3. Post: Sleeping Your Way to the Top
"Business leaders are paid to use their brains. So it is surprising how little emphasis many put on this vital organ." This post from MIT Management Executive Education succinctly explores the science behind brain function and offers insights into who can get away will less sleep (spoil alert: the odds are against you), what the brain really needs to perform at its best and how to give your brain what it needs in order to meet your biggest goals.
4. Post: Three Reasons Your Company Should Make Vacation Mandatory
This Forbes post digs into why vacations are so important for business leaders, going beyond "it's good for you." Vacation time allows you to develop leaders within your company, which can increase its value. Requiring employees to unplug can uncover problems in your company. And, of course, stepping away from the daily grind is good for you — for both your mental and your physical health.
5. Article/Broadcast: Brains Sweep Themselves Clean of Toxins During Sleep
When you have a business to run, sleep seems less important than getting stuff done — until you realize the true cost. This article and four-minute clip from NPR discusses the research that suggests sleep is necessary for the brain to literally wash itself, cleaning away toxins that compromise brain function in the short-term and can lead to dementia in the long-term.
6. Podcast: Learn to Sleep Better
Maybe you're trying to get more sleep, but can't shut off your brain at night. As a director at CIRCADIAN, Nancy Rothstein consults to Fortune 500 corporations to help people get better sleep. In this interview on the Work and Life podcast, Nancy lays out strategies to make the sleep you get count for more. This includes how to nap for the most effective results and tools for tackling the problem of restless sleep. 45 minutes
7. Article: Can't Sleep? Perhaps You're Overtired.
This piece from the Guardian states the obvious, then digs into some not-so-obvious reasons so many people struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up rested and recharged. At the center of the struggle is the always-on lifestyle many of us have come to accept as normal. But take a look at your behavior. What you would tell a toddler who was acting just like you?
8. Video: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
In this video from Harvard Business Review, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School professor Stewart Friedman discusses how to be a better leader by experimenting with even the smallest habits in your life. Contrary to the common 'work-life balance' idea, Friedman suggests looking at how to integrate the most important components of your life in order to enrich your leadership ability. 7 minutes
9. Post: Sleep Better, Lead Better
Multiple studies show insufficient sleep compromises the individual as well as their employees, but leaders are often unaware of the real extent of the negative effects on their organization. This post from Harvard Business Review addresses the 'illusion of productivity' sleep-deprived leaders can grapple with, illuminates the reasons sleep is so important for leaders and offers simple, practical, research-based steps you can take to change your behavior to become a successful leader who inspires better work from your employees.
10. Post: 24 Leaders Get Real on Balancing Work and Life
Rest is more comprehensive than sleep patterns, and this collection of advice from an array of business leaders illustrates how many ways there are to find what works best for you as an individual. There are some common themes — setting boundaries, aiming for quality no matter the quantity and utilizing the scheduling power of your calendar — but a variety of places to start as you determine what a rich and happy life looks like for you and the things that are most important to you.