practical strategies for rest as a small business owner

Do you feel like you get enough rest? And does rest really have a place in your business?In this post, I share some reflections on rest and practical strategies for rest as a small business owner.

the dream of rest

I dream of a world in which rest in normal. In which rest, is fact, is so normalized that a post like the one you’re reading right now has become superfluous, even alien.

In the world I currently see around me, we have tied productivity and work so intimately to self-worth that we’ve forgotten that we’re not robots. That we’ve forgotten that we are worthy, no matter what.

Falling ill or needing or wanting to take care of ourselves or someone else are seen as deviations of the norm. They are situations when ‘things fall apart’. When we have to scramble for solutions, lose out on income, or work while ill.

I dream of a world in which our unique humanness is central. In which our neuro-diversities, anxieties, depressions, our physical and mental health are just part of a being a human. In which it becomes easier to carry those things because they are not something to be ashamed of, or feel alone in.

practical strategies for rest as a small business owner

A while back I felt a cold coming on. I felt off—and then I felt the deep need of my body to rest. I have become so much better at resting over the past decade, but I still get impatient. But I sat down with my calendar and to do list, and cleared space. Cancelled appointments, moved projects. I realise my privilege here: being ill for a week did not have major financial consequences for me. I have support. I can afford to rest.

And still. I often struggle to allow myself to rest. Particularly in those grey areas: when it’s not covid (as it was now), but simply a day or week of feeling really drained, mentally or physically. Those moments when yes, I could work—but it wouldn’t be good for me. Those moments when my old self, as well as much of the culture around me, tells me to push through.

No matter your situation, I’ve come up with some practical strategies to help you add more rest to your days, and to your business.


I still struggle with allowing myself to rest, especially in those moments when I could work but it wouldn’t be good for me.


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#1 what does rest look like for you?

Rest looks different for all of us. For my partner, it’s lying down on the sofa with a computer game. For me, it’s movement, or reading, or spending time tending my plants.

Depending on your other commitments and the level of (practical, financial and emotional) support you have, rest might be a day at a spa, or simply ten minutes of quiet, even if it’s locked in the bathroom with headphones on.

All of these types of rest count. I know that even just five minutes of meditation, or five minutes, three minutes even, in the garden between appointments recharges me. What recharges you?

#2 planning for rest

Take a look at your calendar and your projects and figure out where you already know that you are going to need to rest more.

This could be, for instance:

  • before and after a big launch
  • before and after busy periods in your business such as Christmas
  • after a busy weekend with friends and family

Of course, you can’t always plan moments when you need rest (trust me, I know). But thinking about the moments you can predict is a great first start.

Also think about how to financially plan for rest. What kind of buffer would you need to take a week off? It’s okay if you don’t have a buffer now. I know many small business owners don’t make the monthly income to set aside a good chunk of money.

So start small. Can you set aside £5 this month? £10? Or maybe put a percentage of every sale in your buffer fund? Think of this not so much as an emergency fund, but as a freedom fund—this money gives you the freedom to rest and take care of yourself.


If you think of rest as a scale, what can you do on some days and not on others?


#3 rest can be a scale

Thinking of taking rest in terms of a scale has really helped me. There is 100% rest, when I’m ill or for other reasons unable to do anything, including work. These are the moments when I can’t work at all. All appointments need to be cancelled (again, I have the privilege to be ill).

Then there are moments when I need more rest, but I can still do the bare essentials. What are the bare essentials in your business? For me, client calls are the bare essential, so if I feel the need for rest but still have enough energy and space to do some work, client calls come first. Writing and sending my newsletter is very important to me and my business, but can also happen another week.

#4 communicate rest

I offer more templates to communicate boundaries in my business boundaries guide, but I’d invite you to think about phrases you can use to communicate rest. I’ve found it so helpful that have my own set of phrases that I can use—it’s less about not having to think about the words, and everything about not feeling the need to apologize. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Phrases to try out:

  • “I need more downtime and/or mental space this week, and I’d like to move our appointment to…”
  • “This week is very full for me. I want to give our project the time and energy it deserves, so would like to move our appointment/deadlines…”

an experiment

Take some time to journal or think about these questions:

  1. What does rest look like to you?
  2. How can you plan for rest in your business?
  3. What are the bare essentials in your business?
  4. How can you communicate rest to clients and customers?

I’d love to know which of these practical strategies for rest as a small business owner you’re going to try. Feel free to reach out.

Please feel free to share it with business friends, in your newsletter or on social media. 💛

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