Why Resting is a Difficult But Important Part of Living Well
Day 12 of self-isolation has been a good one. We made coffee, went on a walk, did an at-home workout in our living room, made lunch, tidied the house, and are spending the afternoon enjoying books and video games. Besides not seeing our families or friends, today hasn’t felt too different from a regular Sunday.
Upon reflecting on this weekend however, I have noticed a big difference in how I have been approaching each day. It has been too long since the last time I truly let myself rest.
After the first week of COVID-19 related distancing and isolating, full of stress and feeling unsure, I have slowly realized that there is nowhere to be and no deadline to meet. All we can do is stay home. Stay positive. Feel the feelings. And stay healthy. I have always struggled with getting proper rest. As I am sure so many of us do. Resting feels like a luxury. Something we must earn after a long day (or week) of working hard and being productive.
I am somewhat ashamed and somewhat proud to say that I see productivity and accomplishments as my currency of self-value. So when larger goals and plans are taken from me, such as now, I struggle to find that same value elsewhere. Hence, the organized, clean house and daily routines that give me a sense of accomplishment.
I see all of the instagram posts that challenge hustle culture and I get it. I really do. I know that resting helps me become a better person. It even helps me become productive if I want to see it that way. But I still have to do at least two things at once. Always. Watching a Netflix show must be done while photo editing or making dinner. Going on a walk must be done at a brisk pace so it doubles as some exercise. Reading must be put on the back burner until the house is clean. The list goes on.
What I am trying to say is that resting is really hard for me. And some people will wholeheartedly agree, while others will think my busybody nature is crazy. My boyfriend Josh for example, is very good at resting, and having him remind me that we can finish the dishes later or that it is okay to watch (gasp!) more than one movie in a day if we so choose has been life-changing in terms of increasing how often I rest.
This post is not condemning anyone for being good at resting or not good at resting, rather it is to acknowledge that resting can be difficult. Whether that be because you have kids, or a demanding job, or because you’re like me and just can’t stop moving for very long. And more than just being difficult, I think we sometimes forget what true resting is. What it feels like and how to use it to better our lives.
Resting is connected with relaxation, stillness, peace, and recovering one’s strength. It is not directly associated with a specific activity. Watching a movie can be restful, but not if you feel on-edge while watching. Painting can be restful, but not if you you see it as a task to accomplish. Resting, ultimately is a state of mind or an intention to find stillness, relaxation, and recovery.
Here are a few ways to rest that you may have not connected with resting before… walking in nature, reading a book, listening to music, writing down gratitudes, sitting with a cup of coffee or tea, knitting, yoga, scrapbooking, journalling, dancing…. you get the idea. There are so many activities that could be restful for you. The key is to be intentional about what you do to rest. When you finish your restful activity you should come away somewhat refreshed and more at peace than you were before.
So while, like me, many of you are no doubt trying your best to keep busy and your mind occupied in this chaotic time, remember to create intentional time for resting. Ideally focusing on one thing at a time. Slowing down. Refreshing your body and mind before your next snack time with the kids, at-home workout, yard project, or zoom meeting. I will be over here still loving productivity and busy-ness, but also reading. Counting my blessings. And finding value in myself even in times of rest.