Writer: Hassel Aviles
Most of my career has been in the hospitality and culinary industry spanning over two decades. In all that time, taking breaks and time off was a foreign concept. In all of my jobs in frontline service I was often overworked, scheduled for unconventional hours and trained to always be available (even during my hours when I wasn’t at the restaurant or bar and wasn’t being paid). This was all very normalized and encouraged. As a result, I have a lot of unlearning to do about adequate rest, days off, breaks and boundaries with work.
The last two years of the pandemic have forced me to slow down. This has been uncomfortable and given me time to learn more about the influence our environment, culture and society have on our ability to take space and time from work. In North America and Turtle Island, we are impacted by various systems of oppression that leave us confused about the importance and power of rest. Although we have a need for rest, it is often disregarded as luxurious or ‘nice to have.’
I have deepened my learning about rest further through many teachers, in particular the writing of Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry. Tricia says, “Rest is anything that connects our body and mind.” (If you are unfamiliar with her work, visit the thenapministry.wordpress.com – you’re welcome!) Learning more about the connection between the toxic idea of always keeping busy and oppression has helped me untangle the guilt and pressure I put on myself.
“[Rest] is about a deep unraveling from white supremacy and capitalism. These two systems are violent and evil. History tells us this and our present living shows this. Rest pushes back and disrupts a system that views human bodies as a tool for production and labor.”
As an industry, we have so much unlearning to do about rest. In the hospitality and foodservice sector, we’re conditioned to avoid days off, be constantly busy and told that rest is for when we are dead. This is harmful. Rest is not lazy, it is sacred. We must learn to understand that rest is essential to a healthy mind and body, and we are no exception.
Rest is taking time to regulate your nervous system, body, mind, and emotions. Its purpose is to unplug, increase your well being and connect inwards. There are different forms of rest, including physical, mental, creative, social, spiritual, emotional or sensory. It can be really difficult to fully rest from all these things at once, and we may not require rest from all at the same time.
When you step away from the relentless pressure to be busy, you are able to reflect, recover, rejuvenate and restore your mind and body. The irony is that learning how to adequately rest doesn’t make you work less, it actually helps you be more productive. Rest increases your creativity as the best ideas often hit when you are resting or away from the hustle and bustle of stressful environments.
Author Joshua Becker says about rest that it is “an extension of our contentment and security.” Without sleep, our physical health is at stake. Without rest, our psychological and emotional health is at risk. Risk in either area will cause risk in the other. Sleep to recover, rest to thrive.
Lastly, there’s the power of short breaks. Taking a break (aka mini moments of rest) offers space and time away from work, physical exertion, or emotional stress. Similar to rest, breaks promote mental health, boost creativity, increase productivity, promote well-being, reduce stress, improve mood, and strengthen relationships.
There is a massive difference between learning a concept and applying your learning into practice. The team at Not 9 to 5 and I are in need of some time to rest, to be less busy and work at our own pace. We collectively decided recently that we will be embracing a summer of rest and walking the talk by offering workplace accommodations for ourselves.
Instead of just imposing the same specific “summer hours” on everyone, we are figuring out how this time will work for each of us. Either way, July and August will be quiet months for us as we will not be participating in any public facing programming, public speaking, events or online webinars. Our website, social media channels and CNECTing are full of resources and will continue to remain available to all who are seeking support.
So, if you or your hospitality teams are seeking workplace mental health support this summer, please join CNECTing (it’s free!). We encourage you to download our free workplace mental health guidebook as a great first start. If you’re a leader, take our CNECTed certification program and then invest in your team to do the same. Get CNECTed certified first before your team, it helps set the tone and ensures you’re equipped for what your team needs.
If you need us, you can definitely email us. We are still here, but are taking extra time for rest and resisting the sense of urgency to respond immediately. Don’t hesitate to connect with us by writing firstname.lastname@example.org and until then, we wish you a restful summer.
To learn more about CNECTing, click here.
To visit our Instagram, click here.
To read a personal experience about burnout and lack of rest, click here.