[Photo credit: Natalie Jenks]
Jeena Cho is a lawyer, author, and mindfulness consultant based in San Francisco. She travels throughout the U.S. to give lawyers practical day-to-day tools to reduce stress. She’s also the author of The Anxious Lawyer, an eight-week guidebook for lawyers to find satisfaction in their careers through mindfulness practice.
We recently sat down to discuss meditation as a form of rest, how she kicks back on a Sunday, and advice for people who struggle with downtime:
What's your biggest struggle with finding rest?
Endless to-do lists are my biggest struggle. I use the Kanban method. Each to-do item gets its own post-it note, and I focus on accomplishing one item at a time. I have a target for how many items I can complete each day, which keeps the workflow manageable. I also use bright yellow post-it notes for self-care activities, so I prioritize rest.
A few years ago, I was overworked and overextended, which led to burnout. It took over a year of learning how to care for myself and to pay attention to my own well-being to recover. That taught me two very important lessons: I can only be of service to others if I am well, and caring for my well-being must be a priority.
What's your number one way to rest on a Sunday?
I connect with nature over the weekend. During the week, it can be a challenge to get outside and spend extended time in nature. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’re very fortunate to have endless options for escaping into nature. Aside from going camping or hiking, my other favorite activity for finding rest is gardening. There’s something very soothing about getting my hands dirty, seeing mother nature work her magic and of course, eating the harvest.
How do you overcome any worry about work during the weekend?
I’ve learned to set boundaries and make self-care activities non-negotiable. Also, self-care activities don’t have to take a lot time. It can be as simple as choosing to take five minutes to close your eyes and listen to your favourite song on your lunch break.
Often, people think taking time to rest and practice self-care is being selfish. I realized that even though the two words sound similar, they are opposite in meaning. When I’m being selfish, I’m taking something away from someone else for my own gain or benefit. When I’m practicing self-care, I am filling my own fuel tank, and charging my own battery so I can be more available to others.
What’s your advice for someone who struggles with finding rest?
I’ve found the practice of meditation and mindfulness critical in making sure I’m getting enough rest and not overextending myself. When I was going through burnout, I had no idea, which is a common experience. A daily meditation practice creates space to check-in with myself and take my emotional and psychological temperature. I notice when I’m feeling tired, agitated, frustrated, anxious or worried. Without this awareness, change is impossible. For anyone who struggles with finding rest, I recommend taking two minutes everyday to meditate as the first step.