Sheri Sullivan, entrepreneur and board member-elect of the Rotary Club of Dallas, shares why she thinks women struggle so much with valuing and adding rest to their lives, and how she makes time to rest amidst her busy schedule.
4word: What does the word “rest” mean to you in regards to your work and home life?
Sheri: I try to prioritize rest as a life practice by separating it into two different spheres: a physical state and a spiritual state. The first connotation, a physical state, is when I allow my body to take a break and breathe. It occurs when I want to recharge my mind, body and soul and restart anew. The goal of this rest is to give my body a break and not over commit to activities or tasks.
The second connotation is a spiritual one. Rest renews my mind and my spirit. Spiritual rest signifies my connection to God: a state where I can go to God and rest easy with my concerns. This spiritual rest allows me to be most at peace, most relaxed, and most present. I don’t always get it perfect, but I do my best by setting this intention daily.
4word: Why do you think women struggle with making time for rest?
Sheri: The struggle with rest is many times a mental challenge. Women are told that if they work hard enough, they can have it all: the family, the career, be an amazing boss, be in perfect shape, and so on. Additionally, women receive messages from society that we are the natural caregivers: we are all the mothers, sisters, wives, counselors. In essence, we provide the emotional support for many people. I think that this pressure, coupled with striving to have it all, often times leads many women to neglect getting rest.
We also live in an American society that signals that rest reflects inadequacy. If you compare our society to many other countries, our nation has one of the lowest vacation policy requirements, paid maternity and/or paternity leave, and sick leave. Moreover, there is a segment of start-up company culture which implies that you must work 20-hour days in order to be successful. This philosophy drives home the myth that successfulness is only achieved by always working. In turn, it equates the amount of success one has with the number of hours one works, trading quality work for quantifiable hours. This implicitly suggests that there is something wrong if we take time off. The challenge here is to realize the myth and understand that when we replenish ourselves, we will be able to pour into others.
4word: What are some “warning signs” that show up in your life that signal it’s time for you to prioritize rest?
Sheri: One of the biggest warning signs for me is fatigue. When my body begins to break down, that’s a signal that it’s time for me to step away, reevaluate where I am, determine what is triggering this response, and decide the quickest and most effective way to recharge.
Another warning sign is that when I need to rest I find myself procrastinating more frequently. I put off simple projects or tasks, leading me to recognize that I must need a mental break. By taking time to rest in a meaningful way, I can restore my mental aptitude to press forward.
4word: What advice would you give to someone seeking more rest in their life?
Sheri: One of my most favorite ways to rest is by getting away. I love traveling and I’ve been very blessed to visit many different countries, from China to United Arab Emirates and many parts of Europe. I think it’s important to seek out moments where you can get away for a certain amount of time and relax, but I also think that it is important to realize that rest begins as a mental exercise.
First, listen to your inner soul. Your body, mind, and spirit will let you know when it’s time to take a step back and give yourself some rest. I have a saying I use, which is “Sheri, it’s time to give yourself some grace and mercy.” This allows me to not feel guilty for not making social engagements or not accomplishing everything on my to do list. It is a tool I use to allow myself to rest without worry.
The second thing I would say is start to incorporate rest in your life on a daily basis. Prioritize getting adequate sleep. This may mean making small sacrifices like turning off the TV earlier, but, ultimately, your body will appreciate the sacrifice. I also encourage you to explore unique yet simple ways to recharge. Try practicing meditation, going for a walk, or trying a new activity that is essentially mindless (mindless here meaning any activity that is repetitive and doesn’t require a huge amount of mental consumption i.e. sewing, crocheting, gardening, etc.)
Most importantly, remember that rest does not always mean trying to find moments to escape your life and go away somewhere—although it’s quite nice to get away via a beach vacay! Think creatively as to how you can maximize incorporating a bit of rest into each day. Remember that starting small and staying consistent can have transformative long-term results.
4word: Any final advice for women who struggle to rest?
Sheri: The biggest lesson I learned with rest is that, in one form or another, if you don’t prioritize rest, your body will do it for you. Almost one year ago, I had surgery on my ankle. I wasn’t really resting properly and I wasn’t prioritizing myself to recharge like I needed. I had an upcoming busy wedding season and I could feel the tug and strain of needing to rest pull at me—yet I continued to fight it. Unfortunately, my surgery led to a complication which led to me spending seven weeks unable to walk, seven weeks in a walking boot, and then seven weeks in an ankle brace: there went my summer. At that point I had an awakening that I needed to rest. I had no other choice because I couldn’t do anything for myself.
Initially, I was concerned about the loss of clients, the reduced life, and the physical pain I experienced. Yet, I realized that as much as I thought that everything would fall apart, the world carried on. My clients carried on and were very gracious and understanding; my family carried on; everyone around me didn’t think it was as big of a deal as I felt.
The lesson from all this: the world will carry on just fine and can spare you for a few moments for yourself. Your family will continue to go about their days, your friends, colleagues, and work will all push forward. So, give yourself some grace and take the rest that you need to recharge and rejuvenate yourself.
When was the last time you “gave yourself some grace” and prioritized rest in your life? Sheri shared some practical ways to start including rest in your daily life, and we hope that you will put her advice to good use!
Sheri Sullivan is a Marketing Analytics Manager for Cinergy Entertainment, a family entertainment center changing the way people come together through movies, bowling, escape rooms, and game rooms. She received her B.S. from Vanderbilt University and her M.S. from Florida State University before beginning her full-time career in the movie and entertainment industry in 2013. She also owns a cake studio, Sweet RiCreations, which specializes in creating custom celebratory cakes, desserts, and wedding cakes. She is a board-elect member of the Rotary Club of Dallas, which she currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. When she’s not working, Sheri enjoys serving, traveling, sewing, Pinteresting, and just about anything craft related. Sheri currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her fur baby Dyson. She can be contacted via LinkedIn @sheritsullivan.
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