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Renew Breaks: what are they and why we do them

Each December, the Cultivate and Southern Weddings team crowds around a computer screen, pulls out a set of PowerSheets, and digs into some serious dreaming and planning. Why? While we each have individual PowerSheets for our work and personal goals, we know reflecting on the past year and setting goals as a team will prepare and equip us to continue to spread our missions!

Those of you that followed along last December might remember our word for 2017: RENEW. The definition of renew is to make new, fresh, or strong again, and the minute it was suggested, we just knew it would be the perfect word for our year.

We've talked at length about the importance of taking care of yourself in your personal life, but I want to share more about something we have incorporated into our company culture (thanks largely in part to Lara's personal experience and encouragement!) over the past year and half: renew breaks!

What is a renew break? A renew break can be a lot of different things! The easiest way to describe it is it's simply a time to step away from your computer and to-do list to do something different and give your brain a break. We add it to our Tending List each month, and we hold each other accountable for it, too!

If you're looking for a way to incorporate a little bit of self-care into your workday, here's a round-up of some of our renew breaks from 2017:

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Marissa took some time last month to schedule her company date night for February!

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Because Kristin works remotely and can sometimes not step outside during a workday, she prioritizes her mailbox walk each day!

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Ive learned that the best time to paint my nails is right before digging into my inbox because nothing will get chipped! I keep a few polish colors in my desk drawer when the mood strikes, and I'm lucky the in-office gals don't mind the smell!

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Amber spent some time each day reading a new book and checking off one of her daily PowerSheets goals!

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If you've been following Lara's 2017 goals, you know an active lifestyle to give her more energy is on the top of her mind! Her new FitBit encourages her to get up and get to moving if she's been still for too long!

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It's tempting to spend our lunch breaks tied to a computer, but Emily has been stepping outside to her porch for lunch ever since we've been experiencing this spring-like weather!

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This was one of my favorite renew breaks from the past month! Emily brought in her Warby Parker try-on kit and modeled some options for the in-office gals! Head to her blog to see what she chose!

As you can see, our renew breaks aren't large or extravagant affairs! They're simply an opportunity to take a break and refresh our spirits to finish the day strong!

Are you going to give renew breaks a try? What are ways you renew your mind throughout your workday? We'd love to hear from you in the comments!

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How to Take Care of Yourself

A recurring theme I have seen pop up numerous times in your 2017 PowerSheets goals is self-care, and I must say, I love it! The Cultivate Team's word of the year last year was "well." Why? Because we knew that we needed to pour into our wells so that we could draw from them to create meaningful products to help women cultivate what matters, right where they are. A practical way we did this was by instituting "well breaks," which were pockets of the time during the day we were encouraged to stand up, walk away from our computers, and let our brains rest by doing something life-giving! It helps us clear our brains and feel refreshed so that we can continue to do good work.

That's why one of our best pieces of advice is to plan for intentional rest each month. I know what you're thinking: "Easier said than done, Jess."

This is a particularly ironic blog post for me to write because I am the farthest thing from an expert at self-care. I'm hoping to offer some encouragement for those of you that feel like you just don't have time to take care of yourself by sharing some tips that have worked for me over the past few years. As our Marketing Director Amber Housley says, "Self-care doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Little things along the way add up!"

Whether it's a specific goal you wrote in your PowerSheets or not, we know everyone can benefit from moments of self-care! Here are some of my favorite tips for making this happen in your own life in 2017!

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Amber's breakfast date and reflection on self-care

Make a list of activities that are refreshing to you, and keep it somewhere accessible. This might take a little bit of time if you haven't thought about it before, but we encourage you to sit down and make a list on pen and paper (perhaps on a blank page in your PowerSheets or on a sticky note) or on a note in your phone. Having a list makes it easier for you to find pockets of time when you feel yourself needing to recharge. Some favorites from the office: going for a hike, getting a pedicure, starting (and finishing!) an entire book, exploring a new place, taking a bubble bath, getting a massage, spending a night alone in a hotel room, an hour alone in a coffee shop, browsing the local antique mall. Try to include options for all budget ranges and time periods (you can't always take an overnight trip, but going on a neighborhood walk can be as quick as 30 minutes and it's free!) Here's the most important thing: do what is restful for YOU, not what you think you should be doing. If taking a bubble bath isn't your thing, then don't do force yourself to do it! Fill out your list with things that YOU enjoy!

Implement social-media free time! Whether it's the entire weekend, a single day, or pockets of time throughout your day, start incorporating moments to be social-media free into your routine. Social media isn't a bad thing when it is used purposefully, but we've found that taking moments to disconnect often makes us feel purposeful and connected to those around us! We posted some practical tips on how to implement social-media free weekends into your life (don't worry: you can start small!)

Set office hours! Here's the harder part, stick to them!! The Cultivate Team intentionally works Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm EST. Any emails or social media comments that come in after hours are saved for the next day. Why? We've found that working hard during those hours makes us more productive team members, and better wives, mothers, girlfriends and friends outside of work hours. A practical tip: if your work email comes to your phone, download an app that blocks it outside of office hours. I use the Gmail app, and it's easy for me to turn my work email account off after hours so I don't get notifications. Those emails will be there the next morning at 9am.

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Be active. Whether you're taking breaks from your desk throughout the day (laps in our office are becoming popular now that most of the team are FitBit owners) or scheduling time to head to the gym, make sure you get your heart rate up. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of activity five times a week. Can't quite meet that time frame right now? That's okay! Something is better than nothing. Start small, and remember your little by little progress adds up. Lara posted some tips on her blog recently, and we've posted some simple ways to cultivate a healthy lifestyle.

Schedule your refreshment days! Our final tip is to open your iCal, Google calendar, or planner, and go ahead and schedule! Until it has a specific time, it's simply an idea and dream. Oftentimes, when I schedule my "rest" periods, I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing during them; I just know that the first step is protecting that time on my calendar.

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We added REST stickers to our Cultivate What Matters Sticker Book to make it easy to incorporate this into your schedule. Sticker books will be back in stock in the coming months!

Remember, prioritizing self-care doesn't make your selfish. By loving yourself well, you are able to do that for others.

What are your favorite ways to recharge? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

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