It’s January and, if you’re like me, you’re still polishing up your goals and figuring out how you can give a few areas in your life a reboot this year. At the same time, my newsfeed over the past few months keeps telling me how many of us are languishing, experiencing anxiety, or feeling constantly distracted. It reminds me that no matter how ambitious I am or how much positivity I’ve got right now, if I want to experience growth and take new ground this year, it’s critical to incorporate rest. I thought I’d share a few thoughts and resources with our community in hopes that you all can find ways to rest, so you can be your most vibrant, strong and kind selves this year.
Surprise! Sometimes rest is active.
A couple of years ago I read a book called Sacred Rest, by Saundra Dalton-Smith. I can’t recommend it enough! In it, Dalton-Smith describes the seven different kinds of rest.
In addition to breaking rest into seven areas, the idea that rest could be an active pursuit was a game changer for me. I’d always thought of rest as something like a nap or a trip to the spa, but understanding that it could be a hike, a pottery class or having fun with friends was an entirely new idea! Understanding that sometimes rest can be active, as well as passive, helped open up the door for me to incorporate more rest that I saw as not only healthy, but fun!
Analyze your go-to relaxation habits.
The key to incorporating rest into your life is knowing what kind of tired you are. If you’ve got a desk job where you’re sitting and thinking all day, you may feel exhausted, but a night of Netflix and physical rest likely won’t make you feel restored. Likewise, in the workplace sometimes we are churning out work products regularly and creating a lot of output. This may leave you feeling creatively spent. Your knee jerk reaction to a long week may be that you need a break, a massage, or a vacation. And while those can be wonderful things, what you may need is some creative rest, or like Julia Cameron says in the Artist’s Way, some time to “restock the pond”.
Over the past several years we’ve had a Self Care module in our Advanced Trauma Competent Care class and whenever we teach this live we hear some interesting feedback from participants. It’s terribly difficult for many of us to make personal wellness a priority. People say it feels selfish or like a luxury. They may believe they don’t deserve it or sometimes it just gets put on the list as the thing we do after everything else is done and everyone else is happy, in bed, taken care of, etc.
Even when we understand the importance of rest, it can feel like a battle to choose the thing that’s good for us.
One of the core things I have to wrestle with myself is really believing that taking care of myself is just as important as caring for others. I love being generous, thoughtful and serving others, but sometimes if I resist making time for rest, I end up feeling wiped out. It’s that old adage from the airplane – “put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you can help others” – that we all need to take to heart.
Micro self care. Making it easy, makes it happen!
Last year we created the on-demand Self Care Foundations course, which is a short class that digs into the topic of rest and personal wellbeing. In creating that I found myself trying to come up with ideas for each type of rest that are short and easy to execute. Below are a few of mine, but I encourage you to make a list for yourself.
- Physical: Take 2 minutes to stand up, look out the window and rub a little of my favorite smell-good lotion on my hands.
- Mental: Set a timer for 1 minute and write stream-of-consciousness everything that is in my brain, no editing, no punctuation. When the timer dings, I crumple up the note and throw it out!
- Social: Call my friend, say a quick hi and make a plan to have coffee or bubble tea sometime soon!
- Spiritual: Flip through an old journal and reflect on how my life has changed or think about the last 24 hours and try to picture any moment that was positive.
- Emotional: Do a 30-second reflection. How am I feeling right now? Who might be able to help me think through how I’m feeling? And when could I see/call/contact them?
- Creative: Bake! Sometimes I just need to look on Pinterest and find a fun recipe and then get messy!
- Sensory: Stand up and walk away from my computer. Leave my phone on the desk and walk around the block and breathe deeply.
What can you do in 5-15 minutes that could give you the kind of rest you need? Share your thoughts in the comments! We need all the encouragement and ideas we can get!