How to Prioritize Rest and Learn to Do “Nothing”
Have you ever had the experience of being on vacation and feeling like you can’t relax? I know I’ve felt that. I remember once sitting on the beach, the sun beaming down on me, and feeling anxious for some reason. I wasn’t used to doing… nothing.
In today’s hustle culture, we often prioritize productivity and multitasking above all else, pushing ourselves to achieve more and more. Which is why it’s important to always remind ourselves of the value of rest and relaxation.
With the days getting longer, perhaps you’re seeing them as more time to catch up on work and chores. Instead, I invite you to prioritize rest and acknowledge its role in your overall well-being.
Get ready to unplug, unwind, and discover the transformative effects of giving yourself permission to truly relax.
Rest and Productivity
Many of us may have trouble allowing ourselves to rest because it would mean we aren’t being productive. Or maybe we use rest as a reward for productivity— “I’m really tired, but I won’t take a nap until I’ve finished what I need to do.”
Well, contrary to popular belief, rest is not just about doing nothing. It’s actually an active process that allows our brains and bodies to recover, repair, and grow. Rest can help improve our memory, creativity, decision-making, physical health, and even our productivity.
But, even if all of that wasn’t true and rest meant doing absolutely nothing, is there a way to accept that as a good thing?
If you’re someone who struggles to rest, try asking yourself why doing “nothing” is bad or difficult, and why being productive is inherently better. You may find that this is a belief you’ve learned or inherited from someone else. You may even find that this mindset has been harming you rather than helping you.
Sometimes, doing nothing (or doing nothing but resting) may be exactly what you need to feel better.
Rest and Multitasking
I mentioned that the hustle culture we live in has pushed rest further down the list of priorities, and “self-development” culture can easily become part of that. Now, we’re not just trying to rise and grind, make more money, get a promotion—we’re also trying to eat better, work out more, learn new information. It’s a lot of work for one person to constantly take on!
You may feel that everything you do has to somehow contribute to making you a better version of yourself. Well, here is your official sign that you are allowed to take a break!
You are allowed to rest and there does not need to be a specific outcome achieved by resting. Resting can be difficult and it’s okay if you don’t feel more energetic or productive after. Try letting yourself trust that rest is something you need, whatever that may look like for you.
Rest can be a specific activity, like sleeping, watching TV, or going for a walk. We invite you to also think about rest in a broader sense—more as a state of being. So, to rest would mean to let your mind and body rest in place and settle into the present moment. Essentially, resting means doing one thing at a time and understanding the value of this over multitasking.
Here’s a practice you can try implementing: lie down on your couch. Yup, that’s it. You don’t have to listen to an audiobook or meditate. You don’t have to fall asleep. Just lie down and let your thoughts wander. Practice releasing any expectations you may have for yourself and let the moment of rest wash over you.
Rest and Therapy
Seeing a therapist can be a great way to help you understand your personal relationship with rest and how you may or may not implement it in your life.
Therapy can also be a great starting place for prioritizing rest. If you’re currently in therapy (or if you are looking to begin) you may experience a need to fill up the hour and talk as much as you can. The silence can be uncomfortable, especially in a virtual session, but it can also be very necessary.
Try allowing for moments of silence and let this be a time for your mind to rest in place as you are being supported by your therapist.
Think of rest as the counterpart to productivity and multitasking. Rest is a state of being in which we are allowed to do one thing at a time, or do nothing at all!
Try to prioritize rest this spring and summer, and let yourself be in the moment without seeking a specific outcome.
Until next time!
WellNest Psychotherapy Services
Zainib Abdullah is the founder, executive director, 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.
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