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Why taking a break is good for the soul

You may have noticed I have been quiet over the last 6 weeks.

The year has been moving rapidly, in what seems to be record pace, and when I looked back on the first eight months, although I was more fulfilled professionally than most other times in my life, I was also tired, not exercising or taking breaks, and generally feeling I wasn’t being present enough at home.

I wasn’t using the power of rest.

The last 6 weeks has involved a lot professionally, I have been enjoying working on an interim position with a public authority and have taken on a new role as Chair of the Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education. Both new opportunities have been refreshing, challenging and enjoyable, but also came at a busy time for me personally, as I made a decision to do something big.

Actually, they say it’s one of the most stressful things you can do in your personal life…

I relocated, moved house, my husband and I settled in a two-year-old and a four year old in to a completely new environment. I cannot begin to share the planning, anxiety, and emotional energy it took, all with a backdrop of spinning many professional plates.

As all of this was building, it became more and more apparent that rest was something I needed to factor into my year, not just to survive, but to thrive as the person I want to be.

I know I am not the only one, and in a world where inequalities are widespread, we must always recognise the privileges we have as we explore how other people experience the world.

Growing numbers of people within our society have more pressure than we can ever understand, pressing down on them every day, just to get through basic activities due to structural and systematic inequity and discrimination:

  • Black and minority ethnic people are over-represented amongst the lowest-income groups (while making up around 15% of the UK population, more than 26% of those living in poverty are from a black or minority ethnic background (1)

  • Disabled people aged 16 to 64 years had poorer ratings than non-disabled people on all four personal well-being measures; average anxiety levels were higher for disabled people at 4.6 out of 10, compared with 3.0 out of 10 for non-disabled people (year ending June 2021). (2)

  • One in eight black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT employees (12 per cent) have lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT, compared to four per cent of white LGBT staff. Eleven per cent of trans employees and nine per cent of LGBT disabled people say they have lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT (3)

And as we look forward to Black History Month and “Saluting our Sisters” let’s remember some quotes from a range of Black women about the importance of self-care. No matter how many balls you are juggling at the moment, or the amount of pressure you are under, I hope you take some inspiration, and some time out to rest and feel some much needed joy.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

- Audre Lorde

"If we give our children sound self-love, they will be able to deal with whatever life puts before them."

- bell hooks

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

- Maya Angelou

"You've got to learn to leave the table when love's no longer being served."

- Nina Simone

During Black History Month, I will be speaking on topics that mean something to me, and that are designed to inspire others. These topics include:

  • My journey into race relations at grass roots level and how I set up a charity to support minoritised communities

  • The barriers and opportunities for Black women in Leadership, and lessons and actions we can all learn

  • The power of staff networks advocating for change

  • How to show up for Black people in the workplace through allyship

Contact for more information


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