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Why rest is still important, despite being in VIC's lockdown

I started working from home full time as of the 13th March. As we headed into our busiest time of the year I went from working on my kitchen bench, to working on my camping table in the spare room, to finally buying a proper desk and getting a monitor and correct chair and succumbing myself to the fact that I was going to be working from home a while. I found that I was super productive at home – I could smash out more work in less time and I didn’t have to worry about commuting to the office, commuting to meetings, even travelling interstate.

May and June are by far the busiest time of the year for me and I was able to get up at 5am and do a few hours of work in my pjs, go for a run and come back to work and could get everything done and still be home for dinner with my hubby. I usually expect the pace to drop off in July but thanks to some government announcements my frantic pace continued through July and August and I started to feel the effects of it. I was tired, grumpy and frustrated.

I locked in leave for Christmas, telling myself that we would be allowed out by then to go somewhere nice and I would wait until then before I took any leave. Being in the current harshest lockdown in the world I didn't see the point in time off when I couldn't leave the house. I continued to work at a frantic pace and spent my spare time writing a book, doing Rotary projects and trying to read every book I could get my hands on. An article in the Financial Review by Anna Leibel highlighted to me the importance of taking a break, ‘Why locked-down workers should still go 'on holiday’. I had started to burn out and crash so I asked the boss for some leave – in fact, he highly encouraged it!

When you see all your friends on social media holidaying in WA, or at the pub in NSW it can be hard to think about taking a break when you’re only allowed out of the house for one hour per day to exercise. If you win the argument with hubby you also get to go the supermarket once per day. However, seeing as he cooks dinner he usually wins that – You can only have one person per household go to the shops once per day. Curfew is 8pm, although I am not going anywhere with everything closed and I am not really up for an 8pm run. More like an 8pm wine.

I wasn’t sure what I would actually do on my break so only had 4 days off – a long weekend really. Despite only being a long weekend I have never been more excited to divert the phone and put an out of office on the emails. I poured champagne at 5pm and logged off and relished the idea of some time away from work.

Day one and I slept in, grabbed the dog and hubby and we walked our allocated hour at the beach. The sun was shining and I didn’t have to rush back to ‘my office’. I had a slow breakfast on the balcony and sat and read in the sun for a few hours. I had a wine with lunch and spent the afternoon just painting and reading before actually cooking dinner for the first time in a long time! I spent a day with my friends writing stories (virtually of course). I helped some girlfriends with their home schooling duties to give them a break. I read novels for pleasure, not for development and I did my puzzle with a wine and ate delicious food - I even baked! I spent time just lying on the bed with the dog watching the street from the window. I watched TV which I never get to do – I even managed to wrestle the remote from hubby for a movie or two.

In 4 days off I left the house for 4hours to get in my exercise and made one trip to the supermarket. I shed some tears because I couldn’t go running in the bush, or go for a hike or have lunch at the pub with friends. I did however just rest – and it turns out that is exactly what I needed. Physically and mentally I had been struggling and my body was telling me that it needed some time to switch off. Not only did I need to switch off from work, but from the virtual world. I needed to take a break from the projects that I was doing. I needed to avoid the screen for a few days and give my eyes a break and I needed to let the heart rate come back down to normal.

When I allowed myself time to rest the ideas started to flow – by resting, my creative side started to open back up. I have hit the working week feeling refreshed, relaxed and motivated. I have also locked in my next few days off for Nov so I don’t allow myself to feel tired and burnt out again.

As Alan Cohen said, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

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