More Rest for the Leery

Kim’s post about her restorative vacation put me in mind of my efforts to rest more regularly.


I realize how weird that sentence is. It’s bizarre to think that I have to work at resting, but it does require a concentrated effort.


The author, a white woman with light brown hair and glasses, is lying in an orange and grey hammock. There is a small patch of green plants in the upper right of the photo. She has a tired smirk and she is wearing a red tshirt that reads 'patriarchy got me drove.'
This was a particularly challenging day (I barely had energy to smirk) but luckily, I did remember to rest. I felt MUCH better afterwards. (My tshirt reads ‘patriarchy got me drove’)

If left to my own devices, I will keep doing the thing I’m doing until it’s done and then I will rest. That works just fine on small projects – a blog post, running an errand, doing the dishes – but it becomes a problem when the project is any bigger than that. If I am not careful, I’ll find myself working away on a large project until I run out of time or until something more pressing comes along.  


I’m not a ‘workaholic’, I don’t feel compelled to work all the time, that’s not my motivation at all. I just have this mistaken idea that in order to really relax, I need to have all my work finished. I don’t want to have a time limit on my rest, nor do I want thoughts of my remaining tasks to intrude on my rest time. So it’s not that I want to do MORE work, it’s that I want it all out of the way so I can just sink into my rest.


Of course, things don’t work like that. I’m a writer and a life coach and I have two teenage sons, there isn’t really a point at which I am done. Instead, I can reach ‘done for now’ and ‘done for today’ or ‘that’s enough on that project.’ – see Jennifer Louden’s ‘Conditions of Enoughness’ for a good discussion of that last point. 


 I’m a bit nervous about resting because I am afraid that I will derail myself and not get back to my tasks.  I’m sure my natural tendencies on this point are complicated by my ADHD. I want to get things done before I get distracted, I see the work as a whole unit instead of seeing it as being able to be broken down into parts, and I want the work ‘out of the way’ so I can focus on the next thing – rest- without thoughts of work intruding.

A square white card with black text. The text is embellished with flourishes and spirals. The text reads 'If you just work hard and play hard all the time you are missing something. You need to rest hard , too! Try it! I dare you!" The card is resting on a dark surface.
This is one of my reminder cards – I have these things everywhere!

I always coach my clients to rest more often and I have to coach myself to do the same thing. I have little notes posted all over the place reminding me to take breaks. I try to pay attention to how I am holding my shoulders and if my breathing is deep enough – two sure signs of needing to rest. 


That works pretty well (unless I get deeply into whatever I am working on – my brain HATES switching tasks at that point) and I’ll end up lying in my hammock for a few minutes, or taking my tea out on front steps, or sitting down with my book for a while. However, I need more rest during my workday – especially since the nature of my work means that it doesn’t always confine itself to regular work hours.


When my kids were small and home with me all day, I used to joke that if stay-at-home moms had two guaranteed fifteen minute breaks and a half an hour for lunch every day the job would be a lot easier.


It wasn’t possible for me to do then but I am thinking about instituting that for myself these days (I work from home so I have a fair bit of control over my schedule). Maybe setting an alarm for a morning break and an afternoon break would make it easier for me to rest a couple of times a day.


I usually have success when I take something like that out of the realm of an in-the-moment choice and make it an automatic part of my schedule.


Just like Kim concluded yesterday, rest is restorative. I know that, even if I sometimes forget in the moment.


I don’t want to rest more so I can be more effective in my work (that’s a side benefit), I want to rest more because I feel better when I do.


How do you ensure that you get enough rest? What do you do when you are resting?