I love to work hard. I love to bring ideas to life and to dream and scheme and do.
This is a huge part of my make-up and personality. My brain is wired for action and ideas and this is a gift to me, I know that. I get huge fulfilment from the 'doing' but lately I've been on a path of learning the importance of rest; but maybe not rest as I once knew it.
Our culture isn't a big promoter of rest is it? We are often encouraged to hustle, to do more, have more, be more. Work harder, faster, stronger, longer - achieve achieve achieve. On the other hand, rest can sometimes sounds like this elusive thing that is only ever achievable if you have no responsibilities or ambition. Jobs can be relentless. Parenting can be relentless. Is it really a case of either working hard and resting hard? I don't think either of these binary ways of thinking are helpful or healthy. There is burn-out waiting around the corner and rest happening from a place of burn out is not rest. It is recovery. I don't know about you but I don't want to recover from my life.
Rest doesn't always sound very exciting either does it? Maybe for you it sounds like stopping or waiting or hesitation and maybe even for some of us - weakness.
I've had a bit of an awakening to what rest looks like for me - a bit of a stirring of realisation.
I'm starting to wonder if rest is even something that you necessarily have to 'do' - you have a busy season in work or home life and then you take a period to rest. That feels too cyclic for me; too up and down. I have been on this very train a thousand times and it doesn't feel good any more. So now I wonder if rest is something that you can inhabit rather than do. I wonder if rest is actually a state that you can embrace and operate from rather than resort to. I wonder if it's less about stopping but is actually about adopting a different way of moving in the world that is less frantic, fearful and unnecessarily busy. Isn't that something we are all craving?
Here's what operating from a place of rest might actually mean for us:
- saying no to things that aren't the most important so you can have space do what you love.
- only posting on social media when you have something of value to offer - not because you are afraid of being forgotten about.
- not getting distracted by what other people are doing - being really clear about what your goals, your desires and your ambitions are.
- scheduling in time to do things that nourish you.
- not apologising if you haven't gotten back to someone right away. There are no less than 15 ways that people can get hold of us these days - it's not OK to feel obliged to respond all of the time.
- doing things you love without thinking about how productive is it (this is one I struggle with a lot).
- not feeling guilty when you do nothing because your body is telling you not to.
- not feeling guilty when you are working or playing hard because you love what you are doing and you have the energy to do it.
- having more clarity about who you are, who is important to you, what you really love to do instead of moving from one thing, person, task to the next because of fear or obligation.
I recognise that the term 'rest' comes with some baggage and might seem idealistic - life has demands and comes with responsibility so this isn't about switching off from that but about having healthy boundaries, understanding how you operate best as a person and moving in the world from a place of self-support.
If you are picking up what I'm laying down here and this feels like something you are craving here are some questions/tips that you can begin to mull:
1) What are the pain-points in your life that leave you feeling frantic, fearful or frustrated? Identify three things and jot them down - the act of writing these down instead of having them in your head can be really powerful when it comes to remembering those triggers for you. Is it over-consuming social media that leaves you frantic? Is it a relationship that you know isn't good for your soul? Is it a responsibility in the home that you need to ask for help with?
2) What are the things that give you most fulfilment - when you feel most alive, energised, like yourself, at peace or supported? Again - write them down. How much space have you prioritised in your life for these things? Time is a choice and we have the power to fill our lives with the things that deserve to be there.
3) What other intentional things can you filter into your life to feel like you are supporting yourself well? My friend Hannah talked beautifully on a podcast with Sas Petherick recently about how she supports herself through bouts of anxiety. It's a hugely important conversation and Hannah is so wise about how she views rest etc. Listen here for some of her tips.
As always, I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you found a way to operate from a place of rest in your life? Does it seem unachievable in our modern age?