Especially in times when we feel that we are in a state of constantly fighting and the overwhelming stress that is associated with it, it is critical to remember that there is nothing dishonorable about resting.

Recharging the brain and the body

We are so accustomed to being underslept that sometimes we forget what it feels like to be well-rested. Chronic undersleeping is is more often than not the product of our cultural norms than of personal choice and anyone’s fault. The less we sleep, the more we're considered superhuman and the more we are considered to be “useful” humans.

Whenever possible, try to prioritize sleep. Identify the reasons why you may choose other obligations over sleep and put sleep at the top of your Eisenhower’s matrix, which can help you define your priorities based on the principles of importance and urgency. (source: Wikipedia)

Sleep deprivation is particularly dangerous when you are stressed. The stress of life, work, politics, and other events can be overstimulating, but, in times of stress, your nervous system needs to be soothed. Breathing and meditation are two ways to soothe the nervous system. If English language meditation is comfortable for you, consider trying the HUBERMANN LAB.

Forest bathing is a fantastic way to connect with nature, which has also been shown to have a soothing effect. Spending 3 hours in a forest is more calming than anything human-made. There is also something you can do at home for connecting with nature, take a look here ->

If you are unable to recover your sleep and rest on your own, you may wish to seek the support of a doctor, a therapist, or a crisis consultant.

Reduce your news consumption to gain more control

The tendency to follow all the news updates can often be an attempt to regain control in an unpredictable world. In reality, we have a limited impact on much of reality. Be aware of how much time you choose to spend consuming the news and the type of information you expose yourself to.

Keeping up with the 24-hour news cycle consumes a great deal of energy, but has limited impact on our ability to solve any problems, so it can be an unhelpful habit. Meanwhile, stress deteriorates our cognitive abilities. If we are already stressed and looking for something that might make us feel less helpless, we may choose unhelpful solutions. Instead, consider cutting down the time you expose yourself to the news and be selective by planning the moments that are right for engaging with the news or social media. Also, try to be intentional with your exposure to new and information by curating your news sources.

It is not only about how much time you spend on social media or watching the news, but also about consciously choosing to limit your exposure to content that may give your brain and nervous system a feeling of danger and unpredictability.

Most of us are familiar with the concept that old habits die hard. It can feel overwhelming to try to eliminate an existing habit. Instead, try to change an old habit into a new one. For example, how can we stop habitually exposing our brains to social media? Try replacing the habit of scrolling through social media with another habit instead. Message a friend online or spend time with a friend or colleague over a cup of coffee. Give your cat a pet. The brain feels safer when you are reading or watching something you already know and can predict. Another way to switch habits is to, for example, try writing in a journal every time you feel compelled to scroll the news or watch TV. Replacing the compulsion to watch news or scroll through social media with another activity can help you see what triggers your need for news as well as how often it happens per day.

Rest First: A Cheat Sheet to Prioritizing Rest

Sometimes the drive to fulfil personal goals and to satisfy various demands can make the need to recharge feel like yet another overwhelming task. Here's a cheat sheet for prioritizing rest and remembering to “put your own oxygen mask on first.” The categories presented in the below Eisenhower’s matrix are general, but they can help unlock the analytical powers of an overwhelmed brain. The below description isn't the traditional understanding of this matrix, so let's take it step-by-step. Take a look at the categories in the matrix and think about what they mean to you right now:

  1. What can you do to implement the items in the important and urgent quarter? In this part you focus on finding ways and/or freeing time to regain energy in one's life.

  2. Is there something that is important and seems urgent but can be delegated or postponed? Reevaluate those things in your life that are important but are not as urgent as they seem to be.

  3. In the quarter not important but urgent, remember to check up on your news consumption. Try to identify those habits that keep you going back to check the news and try to replace them with other habits that sooth your brain and nervous system.

  4. In times of crisis, when routines get disrupted, it is important to examine your beliefs about what's important and urgent and what's not.

  5. Resilient Organizations

    The definition of a resilient organization is not simply the sum of resiliency and wellbeing of its members. Having a resilient system is an important part of having a successful organization. The following strategies can help. It is essential for an organization to have a mechanism for detecting fatigue and reacting to it. Being overworked should not be viewed as normal or exemplary, but as a problem that needs to be addressed. Leaders should make sure overworking is not glorified or rewarded. One way of changing the norms can be to introduce mental health days off. Make sure the workload is reasonable and offers time not only for regeneration, but also for other aspects of life. Ensure everyone knows how their actions, through even the smallest tasks, contribute to the initiative's overall mission. Find ways to show your team that there is progress in the work you are doing.

    Find out how you can help employees and volunteers feel productive and valuable. Overwork is often the result of personal beliefs and expectations. Check-in with your team members about their work and make changes if some tasks seem pointless to them. Might a team member not understand the benefits of delegating tasks and teamwork? Is it difficult for them to set boundaries and do they tend to overcommit? Providing a learning environment where your team can learn skills that enable them to set boundaries is imperative to resolving such issues.

    It is also important to foster an environment in which talking about emotions is seen as a sign of maturity. Coach teams to normalize emotions by developing a language for naming them. At the same time, emotions should not be used as an excuse for incivility.

    If you observe a decrease in productivity or quality of work, reach out and connect with your team. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. Do not ask only about work, but about the entire life experience in the given moment. Help your team members identify and name emotions.

    Most importantly, support interpersonal connections.

    Consider giving your team members the opportunity to work with real people, especially if most of a team member’s tasks revolve around online work and even if this involves exchanging with another organization.

    Make the team member feel important outside of the work environment and not just when they (over)deliver.

    Don't be a robot, share your own experiences as well. Remember that fostering a sense of connection does not need to involve providing answers or solutions, but can stand alone as a solution in itself.

    The "humans not robots" mindset

    A "Humans not robots" approach means that we need to take into account the full range of human experience, which can help us to deal with complex problems without losing sight of the big picture.

    This approach aids individuals and organizations in responding to crises and fosters a supportive work environment.

    By connecting with others, asking for and offering help, and being a part of a system that supports others, you can make a difference both on the level of the organization and the individual team members.

  6. About the Author:

  7. Anna Kuliberda is an organization change consultant, educator, and coach who focuses on developing strong team cultures and creative, innovative organizations. Her main interests include: catalyzing innovation and facilitating change, empowering organization and individuals in creativity and joy, using active methods in training, well-being and anti burnout solutions for organizations. Anna cooperates with TechSoup in the capacity of a Master Trainer and our Personal and Organizational Resiliency expert.

    Background illustration: Photo by Strelciuc from Adobe Stock license