A few days ago a friend of mine asked me if I hated resting because of how difficult it was for me to stop working. Ever since then, I have been asking myself the same question. This has been bothering me because I thought I was resting and taking time off for myself. However, on closer inspection, I realized how so much of that time was devoted to doom-scrolling through my Instagram account or shifting from one youtube video to the next, not really absorbing anything. I also realized that a lot of my free time was spent agonizing over what to do rather than actually doing anything. I wasn’t getting any rest but I was also too tired to work.
In the midst of hustle culture, motivation, and hype about productivity, I wonder what makes it so hard for us to slow down and allow ourselves time to rest. Sometimes, it’s almost as if we are afraid of what could happen when the noise of work dies out. We don’t really crave to be with ourselves because it feels awkward and uncomfortable, sort of like being alone with a stranger. Is this what is keeping us from resting and just being?
To help myself with this, I realized taking a sudden break wouldn’t work out for me. However, I looked at what I could do for rest. Some of these points may help you as well.
- Taking stock: It helped me to take stock and note what was important for me and why it was important for me as well. I looked at the values that pushed me and the ones I held close to my heart. It helped me give perspective to the decisions I made for myself.
- Permission to rest: Personally, what was difficult was to allow me to rest. I felt I had to be productive at all times and that kept me in an uncomfortable state of flux- neither resting nor working. Sometimes, just telling myself that it’s okay to lie down or sit and do nothing and to let the thoughts flow in (without rushing to my phone) helps.
- Productivity is not equal to worth: Knowing that what I do does not determine who I am. I work as a therapist, a counselor. I enjoy painting and reading. I need to learn and grow my knowledge. They are parts of who I am but they are not the only aspects of me. Engaging in these activities (or choosing to not engage in them) does not make me any less worthy or does not mean I am not these things.
It is still hard for me to take breaks and really rest while enjoying the process. However, I know that I have made immense progress in this and in how I treat myself. I’ve learned to not judge myself based on the journey but rather allow myself to just enjoy the journey in itself.