It’s OK to take a break. It’s OK to rest. It’s OK to take time off.
Take time off from your projects. Take time off from your relationships, even if they are healthy. Take time off from your passions. You can come back to them. Take off from being strong all the time and allow yourself to cry. Take time off from your work, if you can. You don’t even have to go on a vacation. Do a staycation if you have to but take time off. It is critical for your overall health.
We live in a society that tells promotes busyness and overworking (also known as the hustle and grind) are goals and things to aspire to. So many authors, bloggers, successful people and, social media “influencers” always talk about doing more. More action, more content, more, more, more…
Social media is filled with pictures and stories of people always on the go. Everyone seems to be living their best life. But is more really needed? Are we actually doing too much?
The Culture of Busyness
Western culture focuses on doing in order to be or have something. So many videos, social media posts, and blogs talk about the aspect of doing. Even corporations talk about doing more to increase profits.
Unfortunately, the side effect of this has produced a culture of busyness; the idea that you always have to be busy. This lead people to over work themselves to to point of exhaustion. On the surface, this is a good thing because you look like you’re always doing something. The downside is that this kind of lifestyle over time leads to burnout.
The thing with busyness is that busy does not equal productive. Just because you are doing something doesn’t mean you’re making things happen, it just means you always have something going on. Couple this with another problem and you have a recipe for disaster.
The Over-stimulation Problem
It’s no secret, we are over-stimulated. From TVs to computers, cell phones, tablets, and now virtual voice assistants (ie. Alexa), we are constantly bombarded with stimulus at all times. This means everything is competing for your attention. Even trying to have a conversation in a loud room is dealing with competing stimulus.
Over-stimulation overloads our nervous system which can lead to a disconnection with ourselves. This results in our inability to connect with our intuition, rational thinking, makes us more reactive, lowers our cognitive functions, leads to poor sleep, and much more.
This indirectly creates the idea in our heads that we’re not doing enough and that we need to do more. This insane feedback loop overloads us and keeps us from tuning in to our organic needs. Instead of always being on the go we need to learn to take time to rest and recharge without thinking that we’re somehow doing ourselves and others a disservice.
Creating a New Relationship With Rest
There’s a ton of research on sleep now and how impactful the amount of sleep you get or lack of, impacts your daily life. For a benchmark, it’s recommended we get 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. In that time so many things begin to happen to the body and mind.
When we make time for rest we regain our cognitive ability. We’re able to think clearer, come up with more ideas, and create new thing for ourselves. Our physical health improves too as your cells repair themselves, your nervous system calms down, your adrenals stabilize, digestive system functions properly, and more. I’ve also noticed from my own personal experience and others that rest makes people happier.
I could sit here and tell you all the benefits of rest and how it helps you but that might not matter. In order to create a new relationship with rest, we need to also connect to our burnout and see its impact on our lives. Think about how much your burnout has cost you in productivity. How many hours lost in work, how much your poor health has cost you. Look at how many times you’ve had to restart due to that.
Think about how much this effects your personal life. Look at your own mental-emotional well being, how this effects your relationship with your friends, family, significant other, and more. When it gets personal, you begin to look at things differently.
So many people think they have to do more but how’s that worked out so far? If more was all we needed, our lives would look different and they might for some, but most are overloaded. The word rest is a bad word for some people yet, those same people could use it. For as hard people grind (a term I’m not a fan of), it’s equally if not more important to rest.
Space For Recharging
As we become aware of our over-activity, we can also become aware of the amount we need to recharge our body and mind. We may notice that our awareness is off and we’re not at as mindful and empathetic as we once were. This is a good time to create space for a recharge.
Rest and recharge is more than sleep. It’s detoxing, doing new activities and taking time off from old ones, setting boundaries, spending time in nature, traveling, and more. When you’re looking to create a space for rest you need to be very intentional with it. Here are some ways you can create that space:
Set Limits On Your Time
I just read a blog post about boundaries and how they can potentially be harming you. We often think that setting boundaries is a good thing and they are. But like any good wall, it keeps things out as well as in.
When it comes to rest, limiting your availability is critical for you to rest. It’s not only do we not anything interrupting our ability to rest, we also want to make sure we aren’t giving more of ourselves that we don’t have to give of. At times, our depletion comes from our lack of saying no. When you learn to say no, you can reclaim your time and your rest.
This plays off the last one. Over-stimulation is one of the things that stops us from recharging. The only way to help with that is to detox. Officially to detoxify is to rid of poison or the effect of poison. In this case, it’s excess stimulation. What are you spending too much time with or around? Here are a few examples you can use detoxing:
– Limiting social media use, TV, computer, cell phone usage,
– Downsizing your friendship circle
– Limiting your work hours if self-employed
– Staying home instead of going out (practice saying no to events)
Rest doesn’t always mean doing nothing. Sometimes activities can be detoxing as well. I know I talked about doing too much but there are things that have been known to help people’s mental health. Some of these are:
– Reading books
– Going for a walk
– Spending time in nature
I find that a combination of these things are needed in order to have a healthy detox. Also, not everything has to be permanent. Sometimes you just need a break from people, work, or activities. A break allows you to feel re-energized about things. However, if you find you’re not energized after the break, it might be time to let that go.
To be clear, I’m not demonizing action, productivity, nor, being busy. I’m mainly speaking about the culture of busyness that promotes being busy at all costs so you look better than you actually are. If you have something going on, great. Even then, make sure you make time for you.
Always remember there is a time to work and a time to rest. A time for play and a time to take action. It’s important to know that cycle for you and how you can create that balance for yourself. You should feel good about being active and resting. Not one or the other, both. If one is off, then it’s time to figure out what’s going on.
In the meantime, take a break. Your body-mind-spirit will thank you.