Dear kindred friend,
Raise your hand if reading that title made you cringe a little. Raise your other hand if it’s because you know rest is hard for you. Don’t worry, both my hands are up too. This was the Kindred Planner’s May check-in question and rather than leave it at just a reflection, I thought I would add in three ways to help us (read: me) prioritize rest.
Short answer for me: I have not found rest. It’s more that rest has been forced upon me.
Coming off of maternity leave I have learned that whatever rhythms of rest I had previously needed to be adjusted with the addition of baby’s schedule. This might seem like “well duh,” but in my mind I thought I would be able to virtually keep everything the same with just a tweak or two. Funny, I know.
But I needed more than just a shift in rhythm, I needed a shift in mentality. Rest wasn’t going to come at the end of a day or at the end of a week because I completed all the tasks for my day or week. If I waited for my to-do list to be completed before I rested, well I wouldn’t be resting because my to-do list was never going to be completely done. So, the concept of “work hard so you can party (read: rest) hard” wasn’t going to cut it.
I needed to get away from this idea that rest is a reward for working hard. Rest isn’t a reward you or I get because we’ve worked hard enough or completed enough tasks or been productive enough. Rest isn’t a treat for doing enough. Rest isn’t optional or a bonus. It is needed and necessary.
I would also argue that by taking time to rest, we are actually able to work harder and, theoretically, get more of our to-do lists done in the long run. Why? Well, let’s use our phones as an example. Our phones have limited energy because of their limited battery lives. The more we use them, the faster the battery dies down and inevitably, without a break to recharge, our phones die. At which point, it takes even longer for our phones to get back up and running at the same capacity it was before because we’ve run it down all the way. However, if we were to recharge our phones before dying all the way down, we would be able to keep using it at a capacity greater than if we had let it run down completely.
We are like our phones. We have limited energy and capacity and if we don’t take the time to recharge, i.e. rest, then we won’t be able to keep functioning at the same capacity and we’ll need a much longer rest time to get back up. But if we took periodic rest breaks, we would be able to keep functioning well and at the capacity we would normally start off at following a recharge. Make sense?
This is the mentality shift I need. Not to think of myself as a phone, but to see that rest is needed because I am not a human with unlimited energy or capacity. I am a human being, not a human doing.
If I dig deeper into my why of not prioritizing rest or seeing it as necessary, a lot of it has to do with seeing my worth as caught up in what I do. I don’t deserve to rest because I haven’t done enough which means I’m not doing enough to prove my worth to _____ (fill in the blank for society, my family, my business, etc.). This, more than just the rationale of needing rest, is the even more important reason for why I (and you) need to fight for and prioritize rest. Rest helps us shift our mentality from human doing to human being. It reminds us that our worth is not tied up in how much we do, but in who we are. Our worth doesn’t change when we rest and doesn’t change when we don’t get as much done in our day or week.
Easier said than done, I know. I’m preaching this to myself too. So what do we do then?
Well, I have three tips for us to fight for and prioritize rest:
Make a list of restful activities. Take a few minutes to make a list of what you find to be restful and keep it near your calendar, planner, or on your phone, somewhere accessible and near your schedule. Sometimes I can use the excuse of “well I don’t know what would be restful right now” for not resting, but if I have an already pre-made list, then it’s much easier to pick something off the list and implement it right away.
Invite someone to fight for rest with you. Accountability is the best for developing a new rhythm. So tell someone! Ask a kindred friend to encourage you and cheer you on as you fight for rest. Ask them to check in with you every now and then. You’ll be amazed at how just the act of asking someone to do this will begin to shift your mentality.
Put it in your schedule. Before you start your day or week, pick the times you’re going to rest and put it in your calendar and schedule. When there’s something written into our schedules or planners, we are far less likely to ignore it. Literally put a block of time into your calendar that says “rest” and commit to it.
BONUS TIP: Use a tracker to track your rest. Trackers are great for developing rhythms because it provides real-time feedback for how we’re doing at committing and implementing them. Note: they are not meant to guilt-trip you. Read this again, trackers are not meant to make you feel ashamed for not doing something. Rather they are a growth reminder, helping us understand that new rhythms take time and something we are constantly growing in. It’s not a guilt-trip but a growth reminder. If you need a way to track how you’re growing in prioritizing rest, check out our digital and physical tracker notepads.
So the TLDR of all this is: Rest is not a reward for doing enough. Rest is a necessity in our lives. Rest reminds us we are human beings not human doings.
Fighting for rest alongside you friends.
With joy & gratitude,
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