Why rest is so important

Quote from Thich Nhat Hanh on the importance of resting

Burning out

By the end of 2017, I felt sluggish, run down and started to question where my energy had gone.

And then I remembered: I have a child, a house to look after, oh.. and I also work full time to a job I commute to.

I would finish a day’s work, catch the train home, pick my son up from nursery, bath and put him to bed, cook, tidy, clean etc so most evenings I would end up with 45 minutes to sit down.

I was burning myself out.

I’ve always been the type of person who likes to make the most of any free time. Or being entirely honest, I feel guilty when I’m not doing something. I’m not very good at switching off without my mind starting to nag me about all the tasks I have to do.

The connectivity of modern life means we’re always available and always on. Plus the heavily curated nature of Instagram and Facebook help to feed the idea that we should be doing something at all times. We’re also told that anything is possible with hard work, which fuels the idea that resting isn’t really necessary and explains why so many people feel burnt out.

Why do we need to rest?

Rest is fundamentally important. As any athlete knows, our bodies need rest to repair itself and so our minds should be no different. We need to make sure we’re giving ourselves permission to switch off for a while and recuperate.

Most people have experienced feeling frazzled by a piece of work and looking at it again the next day with fresh eyes helps provide greater clarity on what to do next. That’s exactly what rest does for us – it gives us a break. It helps us make better decisions (rather than operating in brain fog), have better relationships (rather than being snappy and over sensitive), have more energy when spending time with our children / families and helps us have empathy for others because we have more to give.

Joshua Becker from Becoming Minamalist suggests we have one day a week dedicated to resting. For those of us with kids or other family commitments, a day of rest may not exactly be practical, however I agree with the principle that we don’t need to have our foot on the accelerator all the time.

We all need to be factoring in rest time even if it’s just to stop for five minutes and drink a cup of tea.

5 things I’m doing to make sure I rest

  1. Recognise I don’t need to do everything right away. The world won’t end if I don’t empty the dishwasher that evening. Plus I have a husband who can equally contribute to household tasks.
  2. Dedicate two evenings a week to relaxing and doing something I enjoy. Run a bath, watch TV, read a book, listen to a podcast etc.
  3. Switch off from social media. I can waste hours looking at Facebook and Instagram looking at people’s lives. It serves me no real purpose and doesn’t contribute to feelings of self-worth.
  4. Understand that saying ‘no’ isn’t being selfish. There is a saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty well’ and I need to remember it.
  5. Simply slow down.

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