Our American culture tends to prize success above all things. And the usual definition of “success” sparks visions of the always-moving person – high-powered executives, elite athletes, and hustling small business owners.
By contrast, the idea of rest or stillness can make us uncomfortable, bringing to mind labels like “lazy” or calling our “work ethic” into question.
But as entrenched in our culture as these ideas are, research has shown that the opposite is, in fact, the actual reality: when we incorporate rest, stillness, mindfulness, social connection, and play (yes, play!) into our everyday lives, we’re not only happier and healthier…
We’re also more productive, better leaders, and ultimately more successful.
How To Incorporate Restorative Stillness as a High-Performing Person
“Sure,” you might be thinking, “that sounds great, but who has the time?”
And it’s true! The busy lives of high-performers often leave little time for rest and relaxation. The trick isn’t to create more hours in the day, but to maximize the time you do have by using it wisely.
You’ve heard it before and for good reason – you can’t do it all yourself! Get comfortable with handing off the tasks and projects that those around you can handle. It can be tough to let go, so start small if you need to: let someone else pick up the groceries, run that meeting, or finish the report.
You may need to adjust processes or troubleshoot some in the beginning, but as your comfort level grows, try delegating bigger and bigger projects until your plate is no longer overflowing.
Learn When to Say “No”
Saying “no” can be one of the most difficult things to learn and accept. After all, as high-performers, we’ve been taught that doing it all is what defines us! But saying yes to every project, task, competition, or social event that comes our way is a quick way to burn ourselves out and lose focus on our own priorities.
Learn to listen to your body as well as your mind when it comes to making new commitments – or even honoring the ones you’ve already agreed to. Are you feeling more stressed than usual? Will your mental health benefit from taking something on, or will it be another step on the road toward burnout?
Do What You Love
…Or, at least, what you enjoy, rather than what you’ve heard you “should” be doing. If you’d rather read a fiction novel than the latest political release, then do that. Prefer baking over going for a run, or taking a leisurely stroll with your dog instead of hitting the gym? Those are fine, too!
Just as there’s a time and place for challenging ourselves and actively working toward our goals, there is deep value in making room in our lives for simple enjoyment, as well.
Pursue Your Spirituality
Make time for spiritual practice – whatever that means to you. Whether you choose to spend time in a church, temple, or other faith community or simply get out into nature1, dedicate time to maintaining this connection regularly.
Move Your Body
Physical exercise and the mind-body connection is essential to restorative stillness. Not every workout session has to be a bootcamp class. In fact, some activities are better for encouraging mindfulness and restoration than others. Swimming, restorative yoga practice2, even taking a long walk3 or going for a hike – these are all ways to use intentional movement to bring stillness to your mind.
Nurture Social Connection
We are social beings, and even the most introverted among us needs connection with others to maintain our sense of self. But not every interaction promotes the kind of restoration we need, so be intentional about setting aside time with friends, family, and acquaintances who make you feel relaxed, accepted, and valued. Spend less time with the ones who stress you out!
Let Your Mind Wander
Meditation and mindfulness practices are valuable tools when it comes to stress management and mind-body connection – but it’s okay to let your mind wander, too4. Try to avoid ruminating on the tasks or circumstances that bring you stress, however; try daydreaming about all those good things, and watch as your mind begins to make pleasant and even creative associations on its own!
Debrief Your Day
In group settings – sports teams, workplaces, even families – processing openly and together can be a great way to wrap up your day while staying present and mindful! When you can, utilize opening and closing circles and reflection activities to set intentions and reflect on experiences.
As a solo activity, these practices can be modified through journaling. If you prefer to journal in the morning, ask yourself a question like, “What am I hoping to get out of this day?” In the evening, reflect equally on the good and not-so-great occurrences of your day to process it all.
Nurture Restorative Stillness Through Therapy
Finding a clinical psychologist who understands the importance of restorative stillness for high-performers is an ideal way to prioritize your practice while focusing on your overall mental health and wellbeing.
The clinical psychologists at Amplify Wellness + Performance integrate traditional psychotherapy with holistic practices that help high-performers address the unique challenges they face in pursuit of their goals.