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The Lost Practice of Resting - Why Are We Trying to be Productive Even During Rest?

The Lost Practice of Resting - Why Are We Trying to be Productive Even During Rest?

You might think that the title of this article could be a touch extreme, but ask yourself, what comes to mind when you think of rest?

Is it sleep? Is it mindlessly lying on the couch in front of the tv? It is relaxing with a dive into social media?

Now, have you ever also felt a deep need for a real rest, a holiday? For a complete break from all responsibilities? Maybe you are teetering on the precipice of burnout? Sound familiar? We live in a society that proudly wears a badge of busyness, and it's rubbed off on all of us. We've forgotten what proper rest looks like, and we are exhausting ourselves by pushing on, grasping at mere morsels of rest.

Reflect on the last week of your life; whenever you took a small break, what did you do? Reach for your phone? Open a new tab on the computer to do some personal admin? Reply to messages and emails? Start scrolling on social media? Then, when you finished work for the day, how did you chill out? Maybe some more of the above, with a big side of Netflix and time on the couch? 

What you are doing isn't actual rest - not true rest, not the type of rest that recharges the brain. You are simply switching your attention from task to task, hoping to find some numbing comfort in the glow of screens. These activities aren't recharging your mental batteries, actually the opposite; they are still depleting them. The result means you are left with next to no energy to spend on your passions and loved ones. You are living your life in a constant state of drained-ness, never wholly present, not thriving, not embracing all of life's possibilities. 

So this begs the question, when do we truly rest? Not only our bodies but our minds too? It's rare. Incredibly rare. And it's important, incredibly important, because, without it, you are left seeking an escape, craving a complete retreat from your life, teetering on the edge of burnout. 

Instead of reaching for the mindless to comfort us during breaks, we need to rediscover the power of real, true rest. The type that actually recharges you rather than continues to secretly drain your batteries. 

Three ways to truly rest:

Closing your eyes 

This doesn't only have to occur at night. You can close your eyes to rest at any point throughout the day. It may or may not result in sleep or a nap, but the most important thing is that you aren't on your phone, watching TV or reading a book.

Being in nature, device-less

Get outside, connect with nature and leave the devices at home. Give your body and mind space, mentally and physically. Without the constant distraction of pings or temptation to scroll, you'll find yourself able to relax easier. 

Being present in a non-work-related activity

Allow yourself the time and space to do something that isn't work-related. It can be something simple like sitting in the sun for a cup of tea, enjoying your lunch outside in the park, or soaking in the bath, perhaps lying back and listening to an entire album end to end. The key to this is focusing on a single task. Don't try to multitask; instead, give all your time and energy to the thing you are doing. Lean into it, relax into it. 


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