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September 1, 2020

Doing so Much is Exhausting—You Need a Big Damn rest.

We all take small rests.

We take naps, maybe shut our phones off for a few hours, zone out to Netflix, have a drink, or go to bed early. These are little rests, and they are good and important.

What’s missing though are the big rests—the deep, restorative, and long stretches of time when we are off technology, and maybe when we’re even a little disconnected from our world.

This rest is different—it’s more than a nap and more than a few hours off our phones.

It’s nourishment.

It’s what allows us to get up and try again. It replenishes the soulful feeling of just being alive. This rest is what allows creativity and the juiciness of life to come rushing back to us.

In the past decade, we have been increasingly glued to our smartphones. We use them for business, to get our news, to be distracted, or to be entertained—there’s barely a time for us to turn them off.

Since many jobs increasingly rely on computers and technology, some of us might end up on screens all day. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty science here because I don’t think I need to. I think we all know that days spent on screens leave us feeling drained, with a headache, and with a different sort of fatigue.

These screens keep us up later than we should be—either because we can’t stop scrolling or because the blue light messes with our natural hormonal rhythm.

Our culture is hustle and grind. Rest is for the weak: if we don’t burn the candle at both ends, how do we expect to get anywhere? We have to be a full parent, a full worker, a full partner, and a full friend, all at the same time.

The pressure is excruciating. Even for those of us who hold different values and opt out of this mentality, it’s still there and palpable.

There’s a not-so-subtle expectation of productivity, of always being available, and of always being “on” that permeates our current human existence. That said, these little rests that we allow ourselves are not enough.

Even on our big vacations, we are often still connected: emails and notifications pop up on our phones, and we can’t help but try to get the perfect photos to post to our social media accounts.

Our relaxation time might include scrolling with less guilt because there’s nothing else we’re actually supposed to be doing. But we’re still scrolling, and we’re still not quite getting the kind of rest we need.

The big rest I’m talking about should look like this:

>> Step away from your normal life for at least 48 hours—preferably in a natural setting, somewhere where you can watch sunrises and sunsets, put your feet on the Earth, and maybe dip your body in a river or a lake.

Go somewhere where you can experience the delights of unstructured time and space, where you can abandon a schedule or any sense of time and move through the day differently.

>> Put your phone on “airplane mode” or “do not disturb.” Feel what it’s like to drop the compulsion to check it every 10 minutes. Feel how the world goes on and how you don’t really miss all that much. Feel the humanness inside of you.

Realize that it’s not about numbers or likes or productivity. It’s the simple fact that you’re alive and breathing, that the sun rises and sets, and that the moon waxes and wanes.

The body is innately intelligent. If we listen, it tells us when we’re hungry and when we’re tired. When we give our body the time to sleep, when we give our minds the space to rest, we remember what’s truly important in life: how it’s really the little things that matter the most and that make our experience here on this Earth memorable.

That’s the kind of rest we need.

A big, deep rest.

A complete break from the fast-paced, technology-obsessed world we’re living in. When we are well-rested and nourished, we show up as the best versions of ourselves. We are kinder, more patient, and do good in the world.

I want all of us to be able to have this. Our culture is not set up for it, and it’s unfair that not everyone gets a paid vacation or has to work many hours to make ends meet.

My vision is a culture that values our human spirit more than our work ethic. Each time one of us draws a boundary around our time and our well-being, that’s a push toward this vision.

May we all find more ways to sink into deep rest.

Our future depends on it.

~

 

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