Question: do you know how to rest? Think about it. Living in a society that is production driven, we are socialized to attach our identities and self-worth to our output or the amount of work we have done. Often, we don't allow ourselves a break until we think we have deserved it. Which typically means "I will not take a break until all of my work is done." Is your work ever really done?
Some of our first messages about work and rest come to us in our childhoods. How many of you had a chore list at home? Your parents created a list of chores for you to do around the house and you rewarded by money (an allowance), or a new toy/treat, or time to play outside with friends. This message is further reinforced at school. If you work hard and make good grades, you have access to gold stars, your name on the board, certificates, pizza parties, etc. This messaging follows you through grade school, high school, college, and even into the work force. The employee that works the hardest, comes in early and stays late gets the most praise, is promoted, or gets a raise. So where does rest fit into this equation?
The alternate message happening at the same time is if you are resting, taking a break, then you are lazy. With all of this floating around in our brains, it makes sense that we have challenges with rest. How can we reconcile all these different messages? Well, we can start by slowing down and listening to our minds and bodies. Our minds and bodies give us signals all the time that we need to rest. It can come in the form of actually feeling tired and often, the signals are subtle. Having foggy thoughts, being confused, taking longer to complete tasks than usual, even having trouble sleeping at night. Those could all be signs that you are not resting enough. Our bodies need time to rest, repair, and rejuvenate. That is exactly what rest does for us. Resting does not only mean going to sleep or taking a nap. It can also look like sitting or lying down without actually falling to sleep. It can also look like taking a break from your laptop throughout the day just to close your eyes. It is VITAL to rest. It is imperative that we re-script the narrative of doing nothing. It is more than okay to do nothing. Let's get comfortable with doing nothing.
Love, live, life!