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B083: How to take a day off without guilt

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I know that most of you guys run your own business, which means you are your own boss. But do you know how to take a day off from work without guilt?

When you work for yourself, there’s no need to concoct some crappy excuse about how sick and contagious you are. Nor do you need to leave some sob story (cough, cough) awkward voicemail with your manager.

You call the shots, you get to decide. And that (I find) is super tricky, isn’t it? When the buck stops with you, it’s a LOT harder to jump off the hamster wheel when you’re sick or when you need a little rest.

We tend to go, go, GO until the moment of exhaustion and then, it’s too late. We’re worn out, flattened, and exhausted, which means it’ll likely take us LONGER to recover and get back to center. Not a win/win situation.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Sinead Quinn all about how to parent a child with special needs. And one thing I took away from that conversation is the importance of taking good care of yourself… FIRST. Not 5th on the list or 8th, but actually putting yourself at the very TOP of your priorities and to-do’s.

So, here’s what is working for me when I know I need to take a day off from work and how to squash that guilt that likes to creep in. You have to give yourself these 3 things:

Take the day off minus guilt – easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Permission

How do we break that cycle of overworking to the point of burnout and exhaustion? We must first give ourselves permission to slow down.

Think about it for a moment. What if you built a business with a company culture where everyone aims to take good care of themselves (physically and mentally) all the time?

How about a place where people aren’t ‘working for the weekend’ with a ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ mentality. But rather, a company where they want to deliver their very best work, and where they are allowed to build in time for rest and recovery? Spoiler alert: this big shift must start with you, their boss!

What changes do you need to make in your company culture, in order for you (the boss) and your team (employees or contractors) to get time off throughout the year?

Journal your ideas – how to take time off

  • Grab a journal and a pen
  • Set a 7-minute timer
  • Brainstorm some ideas out

Do you need to set up more regular check-in calls with your team? These will help you get your finger on the pulse with each person so you know how they’re really doing these days.

Do you (as the boss) need to revert down to a 4-day workweek to ensure you’re getting the rest you need to do your best work?

Could you re-examine the office hours, or introduce ‘Flexi-Friday’ remote working from home?

Bottomline, what would feel like a perk or release some tension⁠—for yourself or others⁠—if you gave permission to take a day off?

2. Grace

We think that the whole world will come crumbling down if we take our hands off the wheel for a day. We’re white knuckling it all the way to the grave! But the truth is, the world doesn’t stop spinning.

Unless you’re a wedding planner, and your client’s big day is today, it’s likely that no-one will be ‘Level 10 panicking’ if you take today off. So, give yourself a little grace, and communicate with all parties who might be affected by you being offline.

Communicate with your co-workers

Make sure to send out emails and text messages to your co-workers as soon as possible, informing them that you’re going to be out today.

If they are waiting on you to deliver on a deadline, let them know how soon to expect it, so they can plan accordingly. If you feel open and have created a company culture of safety and security, you could tell your team you’re taking a ‘Mental Health Day Off’ today. Remember, there is no shame here.

And when you model this healthy behavior to them, they will do the same with you in the future. I don’t know about you, but I personally prefer my team telling me this instead of missing important deadlines or creating shoddy work.

Take the day off, get the rest your body and your mind both really need… and then come back tomorrow 110%. In the end, I think my team would want the same from me, as well.

If you’re still not sure which option to take, read some simple wisdom; Should I take a duvet day or power through?

3. Space

Okay, your day off is happening, all parties are informed. Life is already starting to look up!

Now it’s time to create the space you need to rest and recover.

Think of everything that soothes you in life… I’m talking snacks, cups of hot tea, giant refillable water bottle, RuPaul’s Drag Race, your favorite snuggly blanket, PJs and granny robe.

I mean, why not! If you’re going to do this, do it RIGHT.

Set yourself up for the best sick day ever

Imagine you’re creating a cozy nest in your home. Gather everything within arm’s reach, it’s time to hunker down. And for some of you, I realize this is tricky, especially if you’ve got young kids. So make sure to ask for help from family/friends with babysitting or the school run, so you can focus on yourself today. But as you create your healing space, don’t forget little things like:

  • your journal and markers
  • your comfiest slippers
  • a good mix of healthy, salty and sweet snacks, depending on what your appetite will allow

Sometimes I crave spicy soups. Other times, I just need some apples and peanut butter. Listen to your body, ask her what she needs, and rustle up a few options

Pro tips:

  • naps are better than anything you can buy or consume… rest is the very best!
  • … and don’t forget to silence that phone! Resist the temptation to check in on work while lounging

One final whisper

Want to hear something funny? I wasn’t planning on covering this topic today. In fact, the Universe clocked me upside the head last weekend, which forced me to take a day off. Literally.

Long story short, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know the story of what happened recently to me in London. Go read all about it there and see the pictures of my banged-up forehead (good times.)

But yeah, like me, I wonder if the Universe is also telling you right now to slow down?

Are you going too fast, headed towards total burnout? Are you missing the warning signs? Are you coasting on auto-pilot and ultimately, about to lose your ISH?

Well, I hope you don’t suffer a head injury along the way like me. But rather, you listen to your body-mind-spirit and take today off without guilt. Your team will understand. Your clients will be there when you get back if you reassure them. Your world will not stop spinning but your head might stop it’s dizzying pace if you soothe her.

Guilt is all in your mind and the good news is, you get a choice.

Do you let it win or do you give yourself permission, a little grace, and a whole lotta space to get better?

Option A means you’ll be caught in the cycle, repeating negative patterns over and over and over again. It’s a trap and you’ll lose every single time.

But option B means evolution, releasing the old way you used to live your life and welcoming in a new you. The adult you that sees the warning signs, listens, gets the rest, and comes back even stronger next time.

You decide.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

If this thought of the day inspired you…

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Thank you!

Show credits: Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor. Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Lyden and Janine Yardley, our Show Notes Editors. Manminder Athwal, our Blogger. Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice and George Mills, our advisory board. And I’m your host, Mary Baird-Wilcock. Thank you so much for joining us.

As always friends, keep things simple.

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