I’ve recently had multiple conversations with friends about the idea of rest. What is it? How do we do it? How often do you need it? And on the other side of this and also an entirely different conversation, what is productivity? The only answer I have for you is: I have absolutely no idea.
As someone who rarely takes a break or rests, I’m probably the last person who should be writing about this; but maybe that’s exactly why I need to be writing about this. Rest is an arbitrary concept, it holds no rhyme or reason and looks entirely different for everyone. For some, it might be a nap but for others, it might mean a long, hot shower. As a friend of mine put it, it doesn’t have to be something that takes up your day, it could be a simple moment of rest. That might mean taking 15 minutes to journal, meditate, do yoga, or just sit in your own silence. Think about it like this, we all run out of fuel in different ways, so it only makes sense that we all refuel in different ways too.
Something I’ve heard multiple times in the last month (maybe I should start listening) is “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” In order to show up 100% for others, you need to show up for yourself first. As someone who is always on, I have a really hard time with this. I’m someone who makes myself available at anyplace at any time for everyone else. I will drop what I am doing to answer an email, respond to a text, or pop into a last-minute meeting. I am not as quick to take time for myself. Very rarely do I turn down plans, close my laptop, or ignore a few texts to take care of myself; especially when I so desperately need it.
But on the rare occasion that I do, does that make me selfish? Yes, and that is perfectly acceptable. You are allowed to be protective of your time, you are allowed to think of no one but yourself, you are allowed to be selfish. In fact, why wouldn’t you be? Why would you allow yourself the disservice of letting other people and other things drain you? If you spend your day pouring a little bit of yourself into everything you do and everyone you come across, at the end of the day you’ll have nothing to give yourself, and quite frankly no one is going to fill your cup for you.
This brings me to my next point, have you ever had a really hectic week or been overwhelmed with something and you just kind of ride out the wave? Almost as if since you’re tired and overwhelmed now you might as well do everything that’s going to make you tired and overwhelmed now? If you have, you know that at the end of that wave you are met with the unfortunate reality that you have been running on empty. When you look back at it, you notice that tasks that maybe felt endless or extremely draining could have felt a lot less heavy had you just taken a break. For those of us that overwork ourselves, it can be a bitter pill to swallow, but you can only be as productive as you allow yourself to be, and if you don’t take the time to rest you’re going to have a hard time reaching that peak productivity level (whatever that means). Again, resting doesn’t need to be this eight-hour activity, although it definitely can be, but it can be as simple as stepping away from an assignment or responding to a text with “I will get back to you.” We always talk about setting boundaries with others but don’t forget to set boundaries with yourself. Whatever those boundaries are for you, respect them just as you respect the boundaries of others.
While I have always correlated rest to sleep, I’m learning to expand that definition and find what else helps me recharge and refill my own cup. If you reference my last article I talk about meditation and all the positive effects it’s had in my life, but in addition to this, I also know journaling is a really healthy thing for me. Journaling helps me empty out the contents of my brain and see them in front of me, for the mere satisfaction of having nothing to think about for a few minutes. While this works for me it might not work for you. Maybe you need to binge-watch a whole season of Love Island, go on a drive, workout, sit on your roof, build a snowman, I don’t know but whatever recharges you, whatever grants you the satisfaction of silence or calmness, do it. Do it for yourself, do it because you need it, do it because you want it, do it because you know you’ll feel better afterward, do it because you can, figure out what it is, and just do it.