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Pitstop - Rest

The lie

“I can’t afford the time to stop.” I will call this out and I will call it out clearly. This is a lie of leadership and life. You can’t afford to not take the time to stop!

When you are a leader, there will be busy times and sometimes those busy times expand exponentially. ‘So much to do and so little time’, has been quoted by the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and more disturbingly by The Joker in Batman. When we live by this mantra, it has dangerous consequences for us, our health and for those that we lead. This mantra will drive us to non-stop work, a permanent state of busyness and as a consequence we don’t look after ourselves physically or mentally or take time to be present with those that we lead.

So, what is the solution? In a strange twist, the solution is to take breaks, to find the different ways of rest that can recharge and empower us. That is the weird thing. Our brain will tell us we don’t have time to rest, but a consequence of following this dark mantra, we end up tired and eventually exhausted and so the brain doesn’t work so well. We can become irritable; we can miss things and make mistakes. How do I know this? Well of course I can do the reading. Articles like this one explain the importance of rest and sleep on our performance - But I know this, because when I was a headteacher I followed that mantra. To my detriment.

The many forms of rest

Times of rest are the solution. When I say rest, you may instantly think of lying down, dozing or sleeping. Of course, this is one of the versions of rest. But rest comes in many forms. Rest is about increasing physical and mental well-being. Rest is about recovering strength. It is about noting what rest do you need. There is a really useful article on the 7 types of rest -

It is about recognising what do you need a break or to strengthen.

  • Physical – maybe it is sleep you need. Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. Ironically sometimes physical rest can be about doing exercise that has been missing for a while.

  • Mental – maybe it is switching off the screens for a while as your brain has had too much. Maybe it can be about reading a book because the brain needs a break from work and needs some different stimulation.

  • Social – maybe you have been intensely working with people and so the break for you is being alone. Maybe you have been working alone and the break for you is spending time with some good friends.

  • Creative – if you have been really stretching the creative side of your brain at work it just needs some time to stop, to be, to watch a view and be still. If you have not been creative at work and just trudging, then maybe it is time to get the paints out or whatever your media of creativity is. What creative break do you need?

  • Emotional – if the emotional tensions at home or work have been high, maybe it is time for some coaching or counselling or a listening friend’s ear. If it has been emotionally flat then maybe it’s time for cheering on a sports team or being the listening ear.

  • Spiritual – if work has sucked all your time and you have not spent enough time on your spirit and soul, then maybe it is time to re-engage in what engages you spiritually. Reflection, meditation, reading, worship or a simple time in nature.

  • Sensory – When work is full of screens and the impersonal, maybe it’s time for a break from that and engage in the real life, the fresh air, company of friends.

You will notice from each one that it is about noticing what has been intense and caused something to be missing and then take a step towards bringing rest from the intense and moving to the deficit.


If you have found the dark mantra of ‘I can’t afford to take a break’, has enslaved you, then it is about taking some purposeful steps:

  • Each day, ask yourself what has been overloading and what do I need a break from? Use the 7 areas of rest above to guide you. Then find 10 minutes to do something that addresses it. Such as, a walk in the sunshine if you have been in a room all day.

  • Try to create some planned break points in your day. 10 mins mid-morning, 10 mins at lunchtime, 10 mins at the end of the day before heading home to use for the break that you need.

  • Trust a friend. Ask someone you trust to help you maintain those. To ask you accountability questions about how you are taking breaks and rest at the moment.

  • Try to make sure you have one days rest from work. Even if you have to do some more time in the week, give yourself at least one day off at the weekend. The break and rest does you good and will make you sharper.

So, what do you need a rest from? Be purposeful. Move towards what will give you and your brain a break from it.

Everyday Leader is here to inspire and equip you so that you are empowered. If you are finding the dark mantra of ‘I can’t afford to take a break’, has enslaved you and you would like to explore how to gain control back, you may benefit from coaching with us. Do let us know if we can be of help to you by contacting us at


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