The Joy of Rest
I have been resting a lot, and because of that I am thinking a lot about rest. One of the things I am really proud of from this year is getting better at resting and prioritizing downtime. I will caveat: there is still a part of me that is horrified by this. That part of me screams: “lazy, lazy!!!!”
Rest is of course, a luxury. I worked in a traditional office for twelve years and recognize that my job now has a level of flexibility that most people do not have. I am in charge of my schedule and should be able to properly prioritize rest. That being said, being self-employed has its own set of challenges. There is at times a pressure to say yes to everything because you don’t know if/when things could dry up. And when you are pretty much a one-person show the deadline is the deadline. And if the work does not get done by the deadline, no one else can do it for me: I won’t get paid. In the scheme of things, I have it easier than most people: no kids, no real “boss,” flexibility. Still, I’ve had a hard time prioritizing rest.
In the past, if I got sick I would work through it.
I think there is a little bit of guilt here which probably stems from the very early days of my career. I had a series of bosses who either came to work really sick themselves or rolled their eyes/didn’t believe me when I was sick. And I was young and impressionable and that was what was modeled for me… it made a lasting impression! So I have, or at least have had in the past, a hard time letting myself rest. If I am being honest, there is a part of me that loves (or hopefully loveD) being a martyr. The person who works through illness, etc. because she is such a hard worker. The yes person. The dependable one. The one who puts work ahead of everything else.
A girlfriend was talking about herself and referred to this as a symptom of wanting gold stars, and that really resonated. The 12 years I spent working in the corporate world made me a sucker for a gold star. Yes, yes, yes! I will do all the things, give me my gold star. Hearing a higher up say how grateful they were to me for working all night to get something done was like catnip. Especially if it was in front of the whole team. It felt good. I craved that dopamine hit.
But at what cost? Your health. Your sanity. Your relationships. And probably a lot more.
Over time I have come to see rest as an investment in myself.
If I am rested, I will be able to think more clearly, make better decisions, and be more efficient. When I am well-rested I am more effective at my job. I am less irritable and a nicer person to be around. I am less likely to make stupid typos and silly mistakes. I’m happier. I am healthier (and in a better mindset to make healthier choices, i.e. making a big salad for dinner vs. frozen pizza).
This is just something that has been on my mind a lot, so I thought I would share it here. COVID really knocked me down. I was proud of myself for resting through it. There were nights I slept 14 hours (and that little voice in my head told me I was lazy and gross but that voice is getting quieter).
All of this to say, I am seeing the value more and more of slowing down. Of skipping power yoga in favor of a slower restorative or yin class. Of long neighborhood walks vs. sprints on the treadmill. Of saying no to dinner or an event not because I have a conflict but because I need a night in. Of just… taking better care of myself. I realize I am probably preaching to the choir here but for anyone who needs it (including myself): taking care of yourself and listening to your body does not make you lazy. Rest is an investment in yourself. I am slowly reforming my love of gold stars and coming to find a lot of joy in rest. I am still a work in progress, but a more rested work in progress.