The Big Chill
Arianna Huffington’s guide to (less stressful) success
You can have it all. You can’t have it all. You should have a career before you have kids. You should have kids before you grow old and bitter. You should lean in while power-posing while figuring out the color of your parachute.
A lot of books tell women exactly how to fashion their lives.
Arianna Huffington’s newest, Thrive, enters this discussion, but with a refreshingly simple thesis: Just. Relax. Already.
Part memoir, part self-help manifesto, Thrive tells the story of Huffington’s journey from over-scheduled, under-rested workhorse to serene and balanced new-media maven. The big takeaway? Being a healthy person makes you a way better employee.
We caught up with Arianna to ask her about the new rules for thriving gracefully--and how long she can go without checking her iPhone. Read our exclusive interview here.
PureWow: We love how Thrive emphasizes the importance of a good night’s sleep. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done when sleep deprived?
Arianna Huffington: On the morning of April 6, 2007, I literally collapsed from exhaustion and lack of sleep. In the wake of my collapse, I found myself going from doctor to doctor, from brain MRI to CAT scan to echocardiogram, to find out if there was any underlying medical problem beyond exhaustion. There wasn’t, but doctors’ waiting rooms, it turns out, were good places for me to ask myself a lot of questions about the kind of life I was living.
PW: Learning to unplug is another big takeaway. Be honest: How long can you go without looking at your phone?
AH: Unplugging is a constant struggle for me, but I can make it the whole night! I just make sure I have my iPhone and BlackBerrys (yes, plural!) charging far, far away from my bed, to help me avoid the middle-of-the-night temptation to check the latest news or latest emails.
PW: How can workplaces better care for their employees? Any tactics you’ve used at HuffPo that you’d suggest?
AH: At The Huffington Post, we do a lot to prevent burnout. First, we make it very clear that no one is expected to check work email and respond after hours or over the weekend (unless, of course, these are their working hours). We also have two nap rooms in our newsroom, which are now full most of the time. When we installed them in the spring of 2011, many [people] were afraid their colleagues might think they were shirking their duties by taking a nap. We’ve made it very clear, however, that walking around drained and exhausted is what should be looked down on--not taking a break to rest and recharge.
PW: Do you think the rules of “thriving” are different for men than they are for women?
AH: Our current notion of success, in which we drive ourselves into the ground, was put in place by men, in a workplace culture dominated by men. But the rules of thriving are universal. We’re all living in a world where technology has wrapped us in a perpetually stressed-out, harried existence. We all need to be reminded to stay connected to the essence of who we are, to take care of ourselves along the way, to reach out to others, to pause to wonder and to connect to that place from which everything is possible.
PW: If you could go back in time and give your 25-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
AH: Get more sleep! And stop worrying.