Rest isn’t just for grandmas

Our culture glorifies sleep-deprived workaholics. We have a serious issue with rest. We think the best, most admirable people are those that work and work and don’t stop and we call our friends who go to bed early “grandmas.” We think resting is for the weak. But this is extremely unhealthy. And it is simply untrue that always being “on the grind” is most effective.

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Not giving yourself time to rest and recharge is detrimental not only to your health, but it also affects your work too. Your mind and body are literally unable to function properly. Sleep-deprivation and working non-stop increases your stress levels, affects your ability to learn and be creative, and messes with your appetite among many other not-so-fun things.

We think of self-care as bubble baths and face masks, but I don’t think those things themselves are all that helpful to us (besides hygiene purposes). Self-care is about valuing yourself enough to know that you are not what you do. When you can acknowledge this, you are free to let yourself breathe. You are free to rest.

I know it’s super hard to justify resting over being productive, we are products of our performance-crazed culture, so here are some other things to try this week if resting is not in your vocabulary:

1. Headspace

Honestly, I have not personally used Headspace, but I’ve heard great things. Really any guided meditation is a great way to slow down and give yourself time to be still. If just sitting still really freaks you out, this is a great place to start because it gives your mind something to focus on.

2. Set your phone timer for 20 minutes (yes 20) and just sit.

I know 20 minutes seems like a long time. If it’s really too much, start small and work your way up to it. Using this time to meditate (in a spiritual way or not) on a phrase or mindset you want to have or reflect is a great practice. 

3. Journal

I journal every day. It’s a great way for me to get out what’s on my mind so I can focus on my day and allows the opportunity for reflection. I think writing with a pen and paper is a great way to slow down your mind because you have to settle into the speed of your writing.

4. Go to bed early

Establishing a regular sleep schedule is super important. You probably already know this. But, it’s the truth. Your body is able to fall asleep much quicker and easier when you have established cues for bedtime, whether that’s using essential oils before bed, reading for a little bit, or listening to a bedtime story podcast, teaching your body to go to sleep at a regular time will change your life. I promise.

5. Drink a whole cup of coffee without doing anything else

This is a good way to work up to sitting in silence for 20 minutes. Just make yourself a cup of coffee (or tea or whatever you drink), and relax (ideally by yourself) until you finish it. I think this is a great way to start your morning and ease into your day. It’s also a good measurement of how well you’re doing with allowing yourself to slow down. If you can’t finish the cup without doing something else, like your makeup or homework or going on your phone, then you know you aren’t giving yourself enough time or allowing yourself to slow down.

6. Get outside

It’s super cold right now so this one may be a bit hard to do. However, any way you can spend time outside is so beneficial for your mental health. If you don’t have time to just sit outside (or if it’s just too cold), try walking to class without headphones in. Don’t listen to music or a podcast, don’t shut things out. Just focus on your surroundings and give yourself time to reflect.

7. Unplug

Guys. We are addicted to our phones, it’s crazy. I know it’s hard (I really do). But I highly recommend taking time away from your screens. I even recommend scheduling it, because if you don’t, you probably won’t do it. If you can’t go without your phone, try using the settings where you have limits on certain apps or challenge yourself to lower your screen time each week. I also recommend taking breaks from social media altogether. It’s hard but so good for you. 

8. Read a book

I think we believe that scrolling through your phone or watching TV counts as rest, but I don’t think so. You’re still stimulating your brain. Reading a book is a great way to escape without stimulating your brain the way screens do. If being around people exhausts you, and you crave rest but feel like a weirdo for wanting to be alone, read this book: “Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” But don’t be fooled! Extroverts need their rest too. 

Lastly, I want to encourage you that however you choose to rest and recharge, it’s yours. Don’t try to make it look like someone else’s “slow morning” or insta-story worthy face mask selfie. And don’t feel pressured to share how you choose to rest on your social media either. To really rest, you have to step away from the world and just let it be for you.