by Sarah Sain
We live in a society that places value on always moving, going, doing and working. Even when the pandemic began nearly two years ago and many people were restricted from going anywhere or doing much of anything, the mindset of needing to be busy all the time persisted – albeit remotely. Add to that the fact that we’re all connected through our screens 24/7, and it’s leaving us mentally exhausted and chronically stressed.
It is possible to relieve that burnout we all seem to be collectively experiencing though by intentionally planning for rest each and every week. Much like our devices that are so omnipresent in our daily lives, our internal batteries can also become depleted, and we need a chance to recharge. Incorporating periods of rest into our calendars and setting aside time to relax and unwind can be our way of powering up, both physically and mentally.
Because many of us are not accustomed to prioritizing rest, however, it can be difficult to even momentarily pause without guilt rearing its ugly heads. We simply are not good at being idle, especially in the face of our growing to-do lists and the (often self-imposed) pressure to do more, and so we don’t give ourselves permission to slow down. Rest plays such an essential role in our physical health and emotional well-being though that we can’t afford not to make it a priority.
Americans leave millions of vacation days unused each year (side note: Plan for Vacation Day was this week on January 25), but rest isn’t necessarily just about taking days off or scheduling an extended vacation – although both certainly create more opportunities for rest than during the normal work week. Instead, rest can be any period of time where you step away from work or causes of stress and focus on silence, stillness and leisure. Taking a long walk, practicing meditation, napping, and reading a book are all restful activities, but so can be watching an episode of your favorite show on Netflix or calling a good friend to catch up.
By scheduling these restful activities on your calendar the same way you do a recurring Zoom conference call, they become a habit that’s hard to break, providing us much-needed balance and leaving us fully charged and ready to tackle any challenge.
Still aren’t convinced that you need to schedule regular periods of rest? Also consider this …
- Rest boosts your immune system. We all need our immune systems at full strength as the coronavirus continues to be a major health risk. Rest and sleep, along with a diet and exercise, can help keep you in top form.
- Rest can boost your productivity and spur your brain to think more creatively. Rest leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new project or assignment with renewed vigor.
- Rest can improve your memory – in as little as 10 minutes! That’s right, even brief periods of quiet contemplation can help your memory retain and use important information.
- Rest can improve relationships. In a period when still unable to see friends and family as often as we’d like to keep everyone safe and healthy, we’re also spending much more time with those in our own households, so fostering those relationships and keeping them strong is essential.