“Just for a minute…”
Do you ever say you’re going to just sit down/lie down/close your eyes “just for a minute” – because your mind and body are telling you that’s what you need but you don’t actually want to plan it into your day or really give yourself the space you need to just rest?
This happens to me often. I plan in my exercise, meals, work and time with my family and I just kinda rest haphazardly when I can or when I absolutely cannot keep going without it.
This week I am in Phoenix with my daughter for dance nationals as her support crew and most hours are punctuated by me needing to get her somewhere or get something to her etc. We have late nights and early mornings. It’s just a very full week. Fun, but full. And I don’t really have any rest planned in. I have lots of work and other things I plan to do in my “off time” but no rest, except at night.
My need for rest I treat as an inconvenience and in some ways a source of shame.
Why we feel guilt for taking breaks?
Because we are part of a culture that values busyness, productivity and efficiency and does not value naps or rest – unless you are a baby or a toddler. Then napping, downtime and sleep are the primary things you think about and even talk about as a mom of a baby or toddler. But then at some point we decide our kids have outgrown naps and downtime and we definitely do not think adults need naps or downtime…in fact it’s more a meme than a legitimate sentiment. More something we make fun of than make a priority.
And yet if you ask most of us if we feel well-rested…we would say no. Probably not even just no but absolutely not, or if you surveyed 100 adults and asked them how much of their day they spend resting…they would maybe say 6-8 hours at night when they are sleeping…ain’t nobody got time to rest.
Well today my “I’m just going to rest for a minute” turned into an hour and 45 minutes. I was sitting up on my hotel bed, computer in my lap, book in one hand, pen in the other and I leaned my head back and closed my eyes and an hour and 45 minutes later…here I am.
One of the things I see consistently in my clients is this neglect of rest, downtime, white space in their lives. They just never want to set anything down.
They are high achieving, successful women with full lives who have grown up exposed to this productivity culture where they feel less than if they do any less than…everything. This is part of the reason why they look for rest and relief in food, on the weekends, in a bottle of wine or a bar of chocolate at the end of the day. Because there is no space made for rest in their day to day.
Knowing our value
Clearly, I know my clients, because I am just like them in so many ways. Especially in this way. For so many years of my life, I valued myself so little. And because my perceived value was so low…I was always trying to prove my value through my productivity, busyness, how much I was needed and relied on, how smart and capable I was of doing a great job at whatever I was asked to do.
If value was really in doing a lot of stuff, I was infinitely valuable. But if value was in caring for myself, honoring my need for rest and giving that to myself, I was basically worthless.
This still shows up in my life-obviously. I am a person who is energized by alone time, who values quiet time, but rarely takes it. Actually – that is not true…I take it here and there where I can get it but there is no intention behind it, it isn’t planned with love and forethought.
It’s like today where it just kinda sneaks in when I am supposed to be doing something else. Which I have to say…reduces the quality and restfulness of the rest by at least half. If I am “resting” with a whole list in mind of what I should be doing instead…it just doesn’t feel like real rest.
I tell my clients – if what you are looking for in food on the weekends is peace and relief…that is a signal that you need some peace and relief in your day-to-day. And that peace and relief will be a totally different experience if it is planned with loving intention.
So I am going to take my own advice. I am going to set aside the work I had planned that isn’t top priority and be present with my daughter, take some naps when she doesn’t need me, read the novel I brought that has nothing to do with work, play with my puppy, lay down for no other reason other than to rest.
Words of wisdom
I want to share some words of wisdom from Morgan Harper Nichols who you know is one of my favorite creatives. Her words always speak to me and so maybe they’ll speak to you too.
“How wonderful would it be if the “rest stop” signs that lined the interstate also lined the interstate of life. How wonderful would it be if weekends and summer breaks and vacations and holidays didn’t have to be the pinnacle of “resting.”
Since receiving my autism diagnosis I have become very aware of the fact that I need way more rest and recovery time than I have ever allowed myself.
I need rest after phone calls.
I need rest after video calls.
I need rest after going to the store.
I need rest after taking a shower, due to sensory differences.
There are many more areas as well and because life is busy, and much of this modern world isn’t designed for someone like me, I end up having to convince myself that in all of the areas of my life where there are no rest stops, I am still allowed to stop for rest.
Even if “rest” means I miss out on some opportunities.
Even if “rest” means I don’t get to achieve every single thing I thought I would.
Even if “rest” means taking a moment to slow down and actually drive the speed limit while other cars fly past.
In those spaces, “rest” may not always feel like the right thing to do. We will likely feel that we are not meeting some expectation. And at the same time, when we are actually are able to rest, we start to see there is more to us than we thought. We start to discover that maybe we don’t have to keep going in the same way we used to. We start to see that being in the fast lane isn’t something that must be done forever.
The problem is that in our current state of the world, the rest stops are getting harder and harder to identify. “You are not weak for needing the rest” has become one of my rest stops and I am sure there are plenty more to be found. – MHN
3 reminders from Morgan
- You’re allowed to pace yourself. I know there’s a lot on the line, and even more on your mind, but your health matters. You matter. Give your all while knowing: your worth is not attached to any of these outcomes.
- You are not weak for needing rest. There is so much to do, and at times you feel overwhelmed by all that is being asked of you: but I just hope you always know this to be true: it does not make you weak for needing to slow down. It does not make you worth any less if you say “I can’t make it tonight.” There are times in life where we must persevere and go above and beyond, but never at the expense of our health. Never because we were made to feel that we wouldn’t be respected or worthy of love unless we met every single expectation. Keep taking deep breaths. Keep making room for moments to rest.
- Give your all while also knowing, your worth is not attached to your accomplishments. There will be people who make decisions on how they treat you based on your successes or failures, but your worth goes beyond what they think of you. Your highs and lows are all a part of a journey that is unfolding day by day. Trust that your worth goes beyond what is seen, and every day is a part of a greater story of who you are becoming. You won’t be able to see it all today. You’re going to need to take the scenic route, the narrow path, knowing that even when you aren’t sure what’s next, hope is resilient and will last. And even if the journey takes longer than expected, you are free to have hope for the future, trusting that no matter the times you fell, you are far from finished yet. Even when it doesn’t look like it. There is so much more happening beneath the surface.
If you, like me, needed a reminder to rest…consider this yours.
Are you planning in intentional rest?
What does resting look like for you?
How much do you think you need everyday? Every week?
What feels restful to you?
What thoughts come up when you think about taking intentional rest? Any judgement? Is the judgement coming from the core of you, or is it from ideas and expectations you have picked up along the way?
What rest stop reminders could you set up in your life so that you honor your need for rest?
Join me in making rest a priority for ourselves.