“Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective.” ~ Doe Zantamata
There are days when I feel overwhelmed and exhausted.
I want to rest, but I simply can’t because my mind wouldn’t stop racing.
The concept of rest has eluded me since a long time. As a recovering workaholic, it takes my soul’s strength to pull back and rest it out.
On the days that I do rest, my body just crashes.
However, I’ve become used to it now. I understand what my body needs, and I surrender to it without any fight. At times, it’s about giving myself the mental and emotional rest that I need, and so I switch off.
Even though it’s gotten better with time, I still have a long way to go.
It wasn’t easy to begin with. I felt myself resisting rest on so many levels. However, I found myself gradually easing into the concept, giving my mind and body their time and space to adapt to it.
“When you rest, you catch your breath and it holds you up, like water wings…” ~ Anne Lamott
Slowing down is a struggle for so many of us.
We find comfort in simply running from one task or achievement to another without any gaps in between because that’s all we know.
Those gaps are essential because that’s where we allow our mind, body, and spirit to recover.
Those moments, days, or weeks of rest that we get enable us to shift the focus from the external world to our internal one because it’s only then that we’re able to tune in and connect to ourselves fully.
We get in touch with our internal chatter, emotional needs, hopes, dreams, and vision for life.
This is the time when our subconscious is fully at work, enabling us to get in touch with our fun and creative side as well.
Without this time to ourselves, we find ourselves running mindlessly toward goals, checklists, and accomplishments.
“There’s room for all of you, and for everything you experience—the grim and the glorious, the wounded, wounding, healing and healed.” ~ Hiro Boga
Then either we’re not able to achieve anything or we simply don’t savor what we’ve been able to create or achieve.
Most of us equate rest with doing nothing physically, whereas actual rest is about switching off mentally. You can spend the whole day doing nothing but thinking about everything in the world—thus coming back to the same feeling of tiredness and exhaustion.
To be able to slow down, switch off, and just be is possible when we view rest and recovery as essential to our well-being instead of leaving it for the days when we can’t push ourselves anymore.
“Renewal is what happens when you realize that some of this stuff you’ve been carrying around doesn’t matter.” ~ Rob Bell
Most of us have an unhealthy relationship with rest and find solace in doing one thing after another. Here are five reasons why:
1. We don’t have a healthy reference point for rest.
The world that we live in glorifies this constant chase and race from one point to the other. Therefore a lot of us don’t understand the concept fully. We’re conditioned to work and be productive all the time. The moment we slow down and pause, something reminds us that we shouldn’t be resting. I mean, who are you and what value do you serve if you’re not doing anything?
It’s because of these internal and external reminders that we find it really hard to just be. Even when our mind and body are crying out loud for rest, we keep pushing. It’s always about “I’ll rest when I have the time,” “Who has the time to rest?” “There’s so much that needs to be done!” or “Rest is not for me.” I find it odd that in my surrounding I am the only one asking people to rest because everyone is in an overdrive.
2. We have unhealthy and dysfunctional ideas about rest.
So many of us equate rest to being useless, unproductive, and unworthy and simply can’t switch off. Most of us have grown up listening to “You must never stop,” “Hard work brings success,” and so on. We even believe that our days off are supposed to be for finishing up pending work. It’s always about work and never about rest. I feel exhausted just writing this!
3. We fear rest.
A lot of us are operating on survival mode without even realizing it. Resting and slowing down would mean allowing your deeper thoughts and emotions to rise to the surface so that you can face them. That’s a hard task for a lot of us because just like we’re programmed to avoid rest, we’re programmed to avoid our emotions as well. That’s why we’re always looking to engage in something or the other so that we can remain disconnected from our inner world.
However, eventually, everyone crashes because there’s only so much that your mind and body can hold onto. We’re deeply afraid of what we might encounter within ourselves, so we keep running.
4. Resting makes you feel out of control. As long as we’re on the go, we’re aware and can control what’s happening inside and outside of us. This sense of “knowing” and “doing” is what enables us to survive, even though it extracts a huge cost in the long run.
5. We have poor boundaries.
Being able to take time off mentally and physically means saying no to the world—and at times to yourself. Since a lot of us struggle to set healthy boundaries, we often allow other people and tasks to invade our space. We end up compromising our health, mental peace, emotional space, and aren’t at peace even then. Once again, this comes from this conditioning that tells us to keep others before ourselves—thus leaving us depleted.
In a world that applauds the concept of constant drive, continuous achievement, and accomplishing one thing after another, it requires intention and effort to slow down and acknowledge the importance of rest.
“Real rest feels like every cell is thanking you for taking care of you. It’s calm, not full of checklists and chores. It’s simple: not multitasking; not fixing broken things.” ~ Jennifer Williamson
It’s about consciously changing this narrative that says “rest is unproductive” or “not for me” to “I need to rest and recover for my well-being.”
Contrary to what a lot of us believe, resting enables us to:
>> Recharge on all levels and it boosts our creativity and productivity. However, it works only when we rest mentally as well.
>> Reduce the buildup of mental, emotional, and physical stress.
>> Switch off from all that we have to do every now and then. This allows our mind to recalibrate, rearrange, and come back with a renewed perspective.
>> Boost our creativity.
>> Make better decisions and solve problems more effectively when we’ve disconnected from the external world a bit to focus inward.
>> Become better people when we take time to recharge our own batteries. Being constantly on the go makes us irritable, cranky, and agitated with little to no bandwidth to invest mentally, emotionally, or physically in other areas of our life. That’s why we end up stuck in patterns of misunderstanding and miscommunication with people around us.
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” ~ Alan Cohen
While there are plenty of ways in which we can and should incorporate rest in our lives, it takes only one thing to make them work effectively: intention.
At the end of the day, effective rest is not about just applying a bunch of techniques or getting into certain practices; it’s about being intentional about the idea of resting.
“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe