‘Tis the season to rest and revitalise!
Over the past 15 years as an executive coach and mentor, I’ve worked with many senior executives who find it difficult to switch off and truly relax over the holidays.
This is despite research showing that executives who take quality time out are more focused and productive when they return to the workplace. These people also find it easier to reach the state of ‘flow’ – the truest sense of being in the moment and performing at your best.
So, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your Summer break:
1. Clear the mind for a fresh perspective
Holidays are a great time to clear the mind. Switch off the phone and laptop and take the time to enjoy simple pleasures like a swim in the ocean or a bush walk. Work is increasingly demanding and self-management is the key to long term resilience. Focus on what is important and allocate some time to reflect on the past year, your goals for the year ahead, and what success will look like for you.
Engaging in different activities broadens the mind, gives us new perspectives, and helps us to get back in touch with who we are as a person (outside of work).
2. Connect with family and friends
When it’s all said and done, it’s our relationships with other people that sustain us. So clear your mind and use the holiday period to connect with family and friends.
This means letting go of thoughts of work and enjoy being ‘in the moment’ both physically and emotionally.
3. Get enough sleep
Science shows that well rested leaders are better leaders. A recent white paper by the Centre for Creative Leadership reported that if you are only getting four to six hours sleep a night, you are limiting your ability to process and organise information, cope with stress, and perform at your peak level.
This is because the brain is very active during sleep. During Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which occurs around every 90 minutes, the brain processes the previous day’s events, improving our ability to make inferences and connections. Sleep also allows the body and brain to turn off its stress response, enhancing our creativity and our ability to regulate our emotions.
So, why not challenge yourself to getting enough sleep these holidays? Most adults need seven to nine hours a night. The white paper suggests going to bed at the same time every night for two weeks and sleeping until you naturally wake up or, alternatively, going to bed 20 or 30 minutes earlier each night for a month. Even a small amount of extra sleep can make a big difference.
I’m going to give that a try myself these holidays!
On behalf of all the team at SMG, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday and all the best for 2014.
About the author: Virginia Mansell, Executive Chairman, Stephenson Mansell Group
Virginia Mansell is an expert in executive coaching, mentoring and leadership. She is also the author of The Focused Executive, an important resource for CEOs and senior executives determined to perform at their very best, the 2nd Edition of which will be published in 2014.
In 1998, Virginia established The Mansell Group to provide coaching and leadership development services. In 2005, she merged this business with The Stephenson Partnership to create Stephenson Mansell Group, arguably Australia’s longest-established executive development firm. Over the last fifteen years, the Stephenson Mansell Group has coached and mentored over 5000 executives in more than 500 organisations in Australia and internationally and has worked with 30 of Australia’s top 50 companies.
In addition to her own experience as a business leader, Virginia brings to her role over 30 years of experience in human resource management, counselling psychology, psychotherapy and organisational consulting.