Rest and down time are considered indulgent practices that are often portrayed as unachievable. We live in a culture of overwork and we have too many commitments, are involved in too many projects and as a result to not connect with ourselves. Like living a constant out of body experience we see our lives as a never ending supply of to-do’s and deadlines. It really can feel that at time we only experience our lives as a third party observer.
One reason that rest is so important is that not resting is actually unproductive. Rest is productive. I recognise that this is a difficult concept to get our head around. It’s an idea that is counterintuitive for most of us.
In order to be productive we must start from a place where we rest. So, rather than resting out from our work, where we collapse exhausted, we must learn to work from our rest! Where we have energised ourselves to be productive.
If you were growing grapes in the first century you would have allowed the vines to be unproductive for the first three years. If fruit tried to grow it was cut off, because the vines were not yet strong enough to support the load of the fruit. Without this hard pruning at the beginning, forcing the energy to go into the growing of the roots the plant would not have been strong enough to hold the fruit, let alone give a quality crop.
People can produce more by doing less. Yet the average person is exhausted and stressed.
I truly hate the idea that people can give 110% effort, this just isn’t true. If you feel like you are giving more than your most then you weren’t giving your most to start with. Yet the idea of pushing yourself beyond your reserves is celebrated. We cannot function at our highest capacities without adequate rest.
We get more accomplished when physically, mentally, and spiritually well-rested than through avoiding rest.
I have always been incredibly bad at intentional rest where I take control of moments and challenge myself in what I am doing and if rest is a good option in the moment.
Restful activities aren’t just any fun activity. How we rest requires just as much intentional choice as how we work. And we need to be honest with ourselves about which of our hobbies are draining and should be more limited.
And if you are attempting to stop yourself from being drained of energy then the opposite would be what can you do to fill you up mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The trick is to then repeat these activities so that they become second nature. Be intentional with them and when you choose to do them.
My final thought is something that came from my friend Sonia. She had spotted that I was struggling to rest and she suggested that I allow myself to be accountable to her. So each Thursday she will ask me what I am doing or have done to relax on the day and during the week. Not just times when I’m doing nothing but times when I intentionally choose to do that which brings real rest and recovery.
What do you need to do to rest more? Can I be your accountability partner?