Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves constantly bogged down with the responsibilities of our work and home life we seldom take the time to rest. When referring to rest, I mean really hunker down and allow yourself to simply be. The catch 22 of rest is that once you settle down, it may be hard to stop the cogs turning; making it nearly impossible to reap the benefits of your time doing nothing. Here are some tips to help you silence your internal task master and allow yourself to harness the balancing power of a good, hard rest.
Knowing When You Need It
Energizer Bunny mode aside, every person has a limit. The key to mastering the art of rest, relies on an individual’s ability to grasp the understanding that you need to slow down and rest before exhibiting signs of burnout, not while in the throes of the beast. This means learning to determine your specific stopping point. Ask any Zen master and they will tell you mastering the art of rest takes as much practice as learning any other life skill.
Walking the Walk
Writer Etty Hillesum once stated, “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” Practicing rest doesn’t mean starting off on your rest-mastering journey by attempting to meditate for 3 hours in your den after a hectic work day. Resting is as simple as letting go, concentrating on deep breathing, and releasing the tension in your body for seconds at a time. These short bursts of rest can occur multiple times a day, anywhere, anytime and still allow you multiple physical and mental benefits.
Giving Up the Ghost
Humans need control. Whether we are actually in control or whether we have conjured the illusion of control is often a subject of internal debate. Get rid of pesky thought-imprisoning specters by carefully scheduling your time, making lists, and jotting down notes. Getting it all out on paper relieves your mind of useless task-related clutter and can free up much needed space for rest and recovery. This mental house cleaning will clear the way for more positive and constructive thinking; in turn, making you a better creative thinker and problem solver.
Give Yourself Permission to Simply Be
We are all hard on ourselves about taking personal time unless it is absolutely necessary. But sometimes something as simple as a few hours off the clock is without a doubt, absolutely necessary. Studies conducted in 2011 by ComPsych found that over 82% of individuals indulge in one or more personal days throughout the year simply for the fun of it; and it has been proven to positively affect health, mood, and performance. Staying home because you are ill or have or go to court should not be considered a personal day. Quit wrestling with task-related guilt and take some time for yourself, even if it is only every six months or so. These days should be spent full of guilt-free, unadulterated, indulgent rest.
Mastering the art of rest can be as trying as learning a different language; you are in essence retraining your brain and body to accept relaxation without fight. Giving yourself the time and space to simply be, even if it is for a moment or two at a time, will solidify your success at learning how to rest. True work/life success depends not only on how much we can prove to ourselves we can do, but also on having the wisdom to learn to quit while we are ahead.