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Why It’s Important To Have Proper Rest From Work Without Feeling Guilty About It

by Fatin Hafizah. |

With long working hours and an ongoing workload that never ends, it’s easy to forego the idea of taking a proper rest and detaching yourself from work. Worse, some of us might even feel guilty about it. Believe it or not, rest is not something we should take lightly. The phrase “Work hard, play hard” is there for a reason and it's high time we abide by it. If you are one of those people that feel guilty about clocking out at 6 p.m. or someone who constantly apologizes for taking a break, trust me, you are not alone. The fact that our minds are not tangible made it easier for us to forget that it too needs a rest. Imagine if you broke your leg, the doctor will most likely advise you to take a rest for a couple of weeks so your leg can heal. Same goes with your mind. Just because we can’t see it, does not mean it does not need some rest. Some studies even show that taking a proper vacation lessens the risk of dying from heart disease and can help create a healthier life. Here are some reasons why you should take rest seriously and not feel guilty about it.

1. You’ll reduce the chance of burning out

In this digital age of where everything is instantaneous, it is easier for one to experience burnout and that is something we should all be wary of. A burnout can lessen the sharpness of your brain hence decreasing your productivity level. You might think you are being productive by working longer hours but in reality, the outcome of your work might show otherwise. Instead of measuring your productivity by counting the hours you put in, look at the tasks you were able to complete and what you have achieved that day. The longer working hours you put, the easier it is for you to experience a burnout. To counter this, take a 20 to 30 minutes break away from the screen. Go take a walk or have some coffee. Nothing will happen to the pile of work you’re handling in 30 minutes.

2. You’ll get more things done

In 2017, Sweden experimented with six-hour days, with workers getting the chance to work fewer hours on full pay and the result came back positive. One of the workers, a nurse stated that she felt happier and even less tired as compared to when she was working for eight hours. The fact that she had more time to cook and spend more time with her family made her feel happier and more enthusiastic to come to work. Aside from that, the experiment also showed that there were fewer sick leaves being logged and their productivity level shows a significant amount of boost. This shows that due to the limited number of working hours, we are capable to adapt to our circumstances and become more productive. With a well-rested body and mind, you’ll be surprised to see how much you can get things done instead of pushing yourself to the brink.

3. You’ll have time to reflect

Taking some time off from work will make it easier for you to ponder and assess your performance. By constantly working, you risk putting yourself in a bubble where you can no longer see what you can do to improve yourself. You might have just put yourself in a comfort zone where you are stuck doing the same routine and are afraid to take chances or try new things that could improve your productivity level. Aside from assessing yourself, taking the time to rest will also give you the chance to celebrate your accomplishments. You will get the chance to see how far you have come and how much further you can go. Giving yourselves a pat on the back will help you boost your confidence as well as invoke a sense of gratitude for the fact that you have a job and are doing well in it.

All of this comes down to the fact that getting proper rest is not only for your physical state but your mental state too. Showing up to work with a healthy mindset is vital for producing efficiency. So, if you’re feeling guilty about taking some rest days, I hope this article will make you see that resting is not a crime. We need to stop romanticizing the idea where people who work overtime are hard workers and people who clock out by 5 or 6 p.m. are lazy and underachievers. If you need some extra tips on how to take a rest without feeling guilty, below are some tips that I found useful:

  • Discuss with your manager or team lead about your days off beforehand. Giving them a heads up will make it easier for them to delegate the tasks to other team members.

  • Inform the colleagues you've worked with that you would prefer to not respond to non-urgent messages or requests after a said time (eg: after 5/6pm on working days and weekends). By sharing this ground rule, it could help you keep your boundaries in check. But of course, you'd have to be attentive and efficiently complete your work during the said working hours. If your colleague does reach out to you, it's important to politely ask if it's an urgent matter that needs to be attended immediately and not ignore it as well.

  • Build a good relationship with your colleagues as when the time comes, you will be able to ask them to cover for you while you’re away (and vice versa). This way, any urgent matters won’t be left pending and you will be not swamped with tons of workload when you come back.

  • Clear up as many tasks as you can. Getting things done before you go on your break will not only help ease your mind but it will also help unload some of the burden off your colleagues’ shoulders. This will also show how responsible you are (bonus point!).

At the end of the day, it's all about managing the number of tasks you have at hand to be able to divide your time wisely and efficiently. It's also when you know how long you'd normally take to complete a task at hand and ensure you're able to complete it to reward yourself with proper rest. With that said, I hope you are no longer afraid to take some rest. You’ve worked hard and you deserve it. Good luck!

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