This month, in our founder Abi’s column, she explores why she relishes a Sunday well spent, how she enjoys her day of rest and why #SundaySelfcare is more than just an Instagram trend – it’s a wellbeing revelation.
One of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur is the guilt you feel when taking downtime. I’m a parent, a daughter, a wife, and a friend too and it never feels like there’s quite enough time in the week for all the things I need to do to keep the whole show running.
“In my youth, when Sunday was more sacred, all the shops closed at 3pm, pubs stopped trading earlier and even big retailers closed their doors, encouraging us all to focus our attentions elsewhere”
Of course, I’m fortunate to have support; a fantastic team across the business, brilliant friends and a family well versed in independence. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still feel the pressure to do these things myself.
One of the things I learned early on to prioritise in this is the weekend. No matter what challenges the week has brought, I have always tried to put work away, especially on a Sunday, to focus on other areas of my life.
Sunday is my family time, my rest and occasionally (when I am motivated) when I get out and indulge in cross country orienteering; a sport I’ve achieved a high level at and use to slough off the strains of the week and increase my dopamine.
How Online Trading Has Impacted Sunday
Of course, particularly in the last few years, online trading has brought excellent benefits to many businesses, ours included. Longer trading times without the need for a building being the biggest one.
However, I believe that this has had a knock-on effect on all of our wellbeing. In my youth, when Sunday was more sacred, all the shops closed at 3pm, pubs stopped trading earlier and even big retailers closed their doors, encouraging us all to focus our attention elsewhere.
Unless you worked in urgent services, it was unlikely even the hardest working of us worked all day on a Sunday, so instead we devoted it to relaxation, and family times. The highlight of a Sunday for most of us of a ‘certain age’ was the chart rundown (which we would anxiously pause and play as songs started and stopped to have a full tape ready for school on Monday).
Shopping was not considered a leisure pastime. Now, I am all for a good browse any day of the week, and I am more than appreciative of all the wonderful orders our customers trust us with. However, we have all also been conditioned to expect 24/7 service and that’s not so great.
It means someone is expected to be always on and I, along with most major retailers, are starting to appreciate that that’s not such a great thing.
This year, for the first time, whilst they’re still open on a Sunday, many of the major supermarkets will be closing their doors and sending all but a core skeleton team home for Christmas and Boxing Day. That’s not because they’re all super lovely to their staff. It’s because the statistics for motivation and wellbeing benefits of prioritising rest and holiday time are vital for minimising employee sickness and maximising employee engagement.
I’ve always had a policy of encouraging my teams to take a break and do other things on a Sunday – not just for my benefit (if they’re at work, so am I) but because I know that if staff continue to work day in, day out, they burn out. Their work suffers and then I lose to excellent teams.
#selfcaresunday, not just for Instagram
Instead, I encourage my teams, children and anyone who listens to take a break. That doesn’t mean doing nothing (although sometimes that is good too), but not work.
If you’re in education, this allows the part of your brain responsible for long term learning to shift the information you’ve absorbed in the week to your long-term memories.
If you’re at work, it allows your cortisol (stress) levels to reset and over time decreases anxiety and signs of burnout.
You can enjoy your Sunday with some treats – perhaps a long soak in the tub with some essential oils. If you get a hike in, or do some activities, Sunday night can be spent having a good foam roll and soothing your muscles out with a rub in preparation for the week ahead.
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the importance of that particular feeling of time standing still that Sunday offers. We might not be a nation of Sunday roast lovers and Chart topper listeners any more, but those values or Family and stillness still matter, more.