Why You Need To Give Yourself Permission To Rest
The importance of rest cannot be overstated! WellNest co-founder and psychotherapist Zainib Abdullah guides us through why unplugging and resting (all types of rest!) are so important.
There will ALWAYS be something needing your attention.
Even right now, there is a chance you are dividing your attention between at least two screens and a few different priorities.
Think about this: Could you leave your house without your phone?
We all know someone who would feel like they lost a limb in that situation! And it’s true- sometimes it can feel impossible to truly unplug. With so many of us working remotely now, we can even take work with us on vacation. Setting boundaries to prioritize rest and the ability to truly unplug is more important than ever!
Why is this important?
Our attention is a resource, just like our energy. And resources are finite. When we split ourselves up so constantly and in so many ways, there are usually consequences:
- Physical and mental health issues
- A lack of interest and focus in things we usually find interesting and meaningful
- Feeling like you are in a constant state of overwhelm and operating from your reserves (not abundance)
Despite this, many of us view rest as optional
When in fact, rest is vital to both our physical and mental health. It’s an important part of our ability to be happy, successful, and fulfilled in life.
In this post, we will discuss:
The value of unplugging and resting
Different types of rest
What rest can do for us
Why You Should Unplug And Rest
We need to give ourselves permission to rest. As I mentioned in my post below, many of us carry shame and long-held beliefs about what rest means.
Rest is not a waste of time. In a world that relies on our willingness to exhaust ourselves to the point we can’t function, resting is a beautiful act of rebellion, and a much-needed act of self-care.
When you rest, you are pouring love and care into yourself. With time, this will improve your every interaction in the world, including the way you approach yourself!
However, we should not rest as a means to an end. Rest is, in and of itself, a worthwhile pursuit. You and I were not meant to work until we burn out, and then work again until the cycle repeats.
Our whole selves- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual- have needs that often we only become aware of in the resting seasons of our life.
Still not convinced? Read on.
What Rest Can Do For Us
Rest is important, we all know this! What comes to your mind when you think of rest? For many of us, we think of sleep and not actively doing much of anything.
And we are definitely onto something here! Most of us can recall a time we felt like an absolute mess (both mentally and physically) just because we did not sleep well.
This is because sleep is absolutely essential to maintain optimal health. Productivity, performance, preventing depression, getting more out of physical activity, strengthening the immune system and mental acuity: sleep benefits all of this!
There are so many other benefits of resting! Here are but a few:
Rest Reduces Stress
When we are stressed out, our bodies are in fight-or-flight (i.e. survival) mode. Over time, this state of activation can take a toll on our mental health and even reduce our immunity.
Resting, on the other hand, activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the opposite of the flight or flight response and helps us come down from that state of hyperarousal into a more relaxed state.
Rest Helps You Make Better Decisions
We have all heard the term ‘sleep on it’. Turns out that resting is actually great for enhancing our decision-making skills. Why is this? Well, when we are concentrating for long periods of time, our emotional capacity and ability to think clearly become depleted.
Many of us have experienced that feeling of not being able to deal with even the most mundane decisions (i.e. what to eat) after a long day of work.
Resting gives us perspective, which can be refreshing when we need to make important decisions!
Rest Boots Creativity
Being stressed and depleted does not allow creativity to flourish. Quiet time allows us to reflect, and take on that big-picture perspective that creativity sometimes needs. How can we see the things no one else is seeing if we don’t put ourselves in the optimal position to notice?
Types of Rest
Are you getting enough sleep and still feeling depleted? You may need a different type of rest!
There are many types of rest besides sleep and relaxation. Each nourishes and replenishes a different part of us:
- Recharges and repairs the body
- Can involve physical activity and physical rest
- Forms of physical rest I love: Naps, yoga, stretching
- Lets you offload emotions to a willing and compassionate listener
- Leaning into an emotional safe space where you can be yourself
- Forms of emotional rest I love: regular therapy, cozy, meaningful chats with a friend
- Gives you a break from concentrating and mentally processing information
- Involves doing activities that are not very stimulating
- Forms of mental rest I love: sitting in a patch of sun and soaking in the warmth, a warm bath, or listing to soothing, easy tunes
- Helps manage sensory (and screen) overload
- This can involve creating space for quietness, dim light, and low stimulation
- Forms of sensory rest I love: going outside for fresh air, dim candlelight, or reading a book
- Encourages us to connect with people who replenish our energy
- This can also look like taking the time close Zoom and Facetime to connect with ourselves again!
- Forms of social rest I love: connecting with someone who just gets you, spending time with yourself and engaging in the hobbies you love
- This type of rest helps align us with what gives us both purpose and meaning in life
- Spiritual rest can anchor us to something, in a world that can often feel chaotic
- Forms of spiritual rest I love: prayer, recitation of religious texts, volunteering, donating time and money to causes I care about
Rest is revolutionary. This can be hard to believe sometimes, because there is always a reason NOT to unplug and not to dedicate time to ourselves. When we feel too overwhelmed to rest are the moments we actually need to rest the most!
My hope for this post was to broaden your understanding of rest, and to encourage you to give yourself permission to unplug, without guilt.
The truth is that everything demanding our attention will be there when we get back. Rest can make a huge difference in how we feel about that, and how we choose to approach our commitments and our lives.
I want to hear from you: What are you planning on doing to rest this week? I’m always open to new ideas and would love to hear from you!
Until next time!
Zainib Abdullah is the co-founder and a psychotherapist at WellNest Psychotherapy Services. Her approach to healing incorporates various therapeutic modalities. She works from a client-centred, anti-racist/oppressive/colonial & trauma-informed framework. As a yoga teacher and student in the lineage of Classical Yoga, she further incorporates mindfulness based therapies to support clients in accessing greater connectedness to their inner wisdom and peace.