True Rest

I read an article today about the lost art of true rest. It struck a chord with me. Because just this week, something’s been nagging at me. Even though I’m a big supporter of not doing too much, taking proper breaks, resting when you need to rather than powering through – I’m starting to feel as though every second of my working day is filled with something.

Yesterday as I went to work, walked around at lunch, walked home, walked to the gym, walked back, prepared a snack, cooked, tidied up, got ready for bed – during all those moments I was listening to podcasts. 

Now, I’m the biggest fan of podcasts. But sometimes as I walk along I feel as though I have a thought trying to push through. On the whole I’m quite good at stopping the podcast to have a think. But I’ve started listening to a new BBC drama series which is seriously spooky and gripping. So I’m racing through the episodes. And it’s bringing with it a sense of urgency. Yesterday I felt that I was pushing down those thoughts trying to come up. And actually it means I’m not giving myself thinking space when I need it. 

In this article the writer talks about a few types of ‘real rest’, and one of them is to walk outside in nature without a device. That struck me, as I pretty much always stick a podcast on when I’m walking outside. There’s just so much to take in and get through…

And I realise that’s not necessarily a good thing…feeling like you need to get through stuff. That list of podcast episodes piling up, all the tv shows coming out that I’m adding to my mental to watch list, and I’m wondering when I’m going to find the time to watch them all. All the books I’m desperate to read and want to ‘get through’.

It’s all mental clutter isn’t it? It’s all gentle pressure, adding to that feeling of always being on, always doing.

I so rarely just walk along quietly, not listening to a podcast. Just taking in the sounds of the park, the birds, the city sounds in the background. 

The other day I was waiting in a little courtyard to meet a friend for a cup of tea. I went out with my tea, and just…sat. I looked up at the sky, and sipped my tea. I felt the coolness of the air and listened to the sounds around me. I let myself think whatever random thoughts I was having. When my friend arrived, she joked that she didn’t want to disturb me, I looked so peaceful. She was right. That’s a proper rest. Not doing anything other than sipping a tea and thinking.

So I’m going to try and do that more often. Sit without any distractions. Step outside without plugging into a podcast from time to time. My aim is to delete all but around three podcast episodes so that I don’t always have this long list to scroll through and make decisions about. I can always add something back in if I really want to listen to it. But I feel the need to ease back on the clutter a bit.


PS After I finished writing this article I went to leave the flat. I automatically reached to put my headphones in…and took them out again. I told myself that I could at least try starting my walk without a podcast. If I felt desperate I could always plug in. And do you know what, I survived. And it was really nice. The little voice in my head was free to chatter away, with time and space to do so. I arrived at work feeling calm and ready to go. 


I help people going through a career change. If you’d like to start on your career change journey, book in for some coaching sessions with me. Find me here on LinkedIn , or email me at

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Time to reassess

Now seems a really good time for us to reassess. We’re gradually coming out of the pandemic enforced lockdown. We’ve hit a sort of reset. And now we have an opportunity to reconsider how we want to live our day-to-day lives.  

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, as I suppose lots of us have. What do I want to go back to? Do I want to fall back into my old life exactly as it was, or a slightly different version? 

Sometimes when I think back to how I used to try and ram stuff in, I almost feel breathless. It seems my stamina for doing so much has taken a hit.

At weekends, typically, I’d want a nice slow lazy morning reading in bed. A proper rest. But I’d also have this mental checklist of all the things I need to get done, right now. Clean the flat, buy food, wash hair, sort something out online. And I’d have arranged to meet a friend for coffee. And maybe another friend later on. Perhaps I’d have invited friends over for dinner. And straight off I’d be feeling stressed.

What kind of ridiculous is that? To have the luxury to do anything, or pretty much nothing, and still feel stressed. How did I manage to arrange my weekends so that I’d be feeling so hurried first thing, just getting started with the day? 

Not doing much at all

It’s amazing to have lots of friends to make plans with and see, and fun things to do. But maybe, when it comes to planning and agreeing to things, I need to reassess, and be a little more aware of how I actually like to spend my time. 

I’ve come to realise that at weekends I really like to not do much at all, just generally potter about. During the quarantine I’ve enjoyed not planning (not that there was any choice in the matter) and just seeing what I’ve felt like doing. Which has basically amounted to cooking, cleaning, playing board games whilst listening to music, reading, maybe a video call. In the evening nothing simpler than cooking up a feast and watching a film.

Back in the ‘new normal’, seeing friends at some point would also be nice. And going for a walk. All ideally later in the day.

But this period of quarantine has reminded me that I actually appreciate being at home more. I’m enjoying not constantly running around trying to do everything. Social pressures have fallen away. Gone is the dilemma of being invited to do something and feeling obligated versus wanting to do that thing.

So do I want to dedicate any more time to agonising over social invitations? Or can I accept that it’s ok to turn things down. Do I want to book up my days and weekends with ‘stuff’ leaving no real free time? Do I want to keep planning weekends in advance leaving no room for spontaneity?

It’s going to be brilliant when we again have total freedom, choices, and can see friends and family as and when we’d like. We’re all longing for that. But also the slowness and simplicity I’ve experienced is something I’d like to hold on to.

If you’d like to sign up for a career change coaching session, you can do so here on LinkedIn. Or email me at

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash

Impress yourself with how slow you can be

This week I was introduced to a poem. It was a reminder to slow down, and it felt like a massive hug:

In the bleak and uncertainty, in the mundane and in the worry, in the misplacing of days and the miscommunication of rules, in the pasta for breakfast and in the cereal for tea, be soft and be gentle, let yourself impress yourself with how slow you can be. – Charly Cox

I love any excuse to be reminded to just sit quietly, read, have a cup of tea. Do things slowly. Isn’t it amazing that we need a reminder?

And even more important perhaps, a reminder to be gentle with ourselves.

How often do we actually do what’s best for us rather than what we think we should be doing? Do we ever listen to our intuition? 

Show mercy

Coincidentally the same morning I listened to an interview with the writer Elizabeth Gilbert. Her message was pretty similar, that you have to be able to be nice to yourself before you’re able to have compassion for the rest of the world. Show yourself mercy. We’re so relentless and merciless on ourselves. We beat ourselves up.

And we should listen to our intuition. As she points out, your body knows what you need, but we’ve got used to listening to our rational minds over our bodies. We think we should do this, we tell ourselves we have to do that, so we do it. Then we maybe regret it, because we weren’t listening to what we truly needed. 

I think it’s something we could all practice more. It’s not always easy. But maybe we can just aim to sneak a bit of intuitive thinking in?

Sometimes it’s as simple as listening to our bodies and having a rest when we’re tired. An actual rest, not just scrolling through whatever online for a hit. A real ‘I need to lie down and close my eyes for a moment’ proper rest.

I did this the other evening. When I finished work my eyes were tired from staring at a screen all day. What I really wanted was to just lie down and close my eyes for a bit. Which I did, and nearly fell asleep.

Then I felt I had the energy to lie on the sofa and watch a bit of tv. Which I did and it felt so good, with not a scrap of guilt that I could be doing something more productive. I felt refreshed afterwards and took myself off to start cooking.

So simple, so obvious, but so often we push ourselves to do the more ‘noble’ thing, the more sensible thing, the more productive thing. But, particularly during this period of the pandemic, I do think the best thing we can do for ourselves is be kind, be gentle, be slow.

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Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one

Photo by Alexandre Chambon on Unsplash

Always in a rush?

I’ve realised something about myself recently. I always seem to be in a rush.

I put these self-imposed time limits on myself.

I’ve particularly noticed it happening in the mornings. I take it slow to start, ease myself into some Headspace meditation, then some yoga. I breathe, I’m slow, I’m basically waking up.

Then – action stations! The next few minutes are a blur of kettle on, shower, tea, dress, make-up, breakfast. I rush through it. Eating my breakfast I try to slow down and take my time – I hate rushing while eating.

But I realise I’ve got into the habit of rushing unnecessarily.

Now, I know mornings are a rush for most people. Busy people with jobs to get to, kids to get ready for school, commutes to make. Trying to get as much sleep as possible is the priority, so we get up the very latest we can and then rush through getting out the door.

But, a few years back I deliberately designed my morning to not be a massive rush. I made the decision to get up earlier, just so that I didn’t have to rush, and could have an enjoyable read while eating my breakfast. 

But slowly the habit has crept back. 

And it’s not just the early mornings. When I leave the house I then rush to my co-working space (I do enjoy the 30 minute walk, but it’s at a good clip). I burst into the cowork space, head down, no time for chit chat. I need to get my laptop on, pronto. It’s a vaguely stressful start to the day to be honest.

No ambling in for me, making a tea, having a chat. Taking my time to sort out my stuff and sit down.

This needs to change. I’m causing myself unnecessary stress.

At the weekends too – I sometimes wake up anxious. All I want is a slow, leisurely morning, reading in bed while eating breakfast and drinking tea. But I have a constant checklist of things to do, reply to that friend’s message, make a plan for later tonight, do the food shop, clean the flat, wash my hair…

I compress time in my head, I need to do everything, NOW! No matter that this is kinda typical at the weekend, I always have this stuff to do, and I get it done. It shouldn’t be a big deal. But somehow I’ve learned to make it stressful. 

So, now it’s time to break the old habits and make some new ones. Here’s my plan:

  • The only time I’m allowed to rush is when I’m actually running late, when I have 5 minutes in which to leave the house or I’ll be late. Anything other than that, and I need to chill out. 
  • I need to forcibly slow down when I feel like I’m rushing, and breathe. Do what I need to do calmly and slowly. 
  • Finally my plan is to leave for work 10 minutes earlier, to give myself time at the other end.

How about you? Are you a rusher? Are you feeling stressed? Or are you pretty zen in your day to day?

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