Have you ever felt guilty about chilling out?
“Work hard, play hard, rest hard”. As most of my friends are aware, this is an adage I love. Work hard, play hard, rest hard. Work, play and rest: all three are equally important. What I all too often find is that the part about resting… gets utterly neglected.
Speaking from personal experience, life has a tendency to be go-go-go until you’re rundown and your body is saying, “No more!”. For most of my university life, I can accept that I was stuck in this cycle. A typical day would be a blend of work, university lectures, gym or yoga, coffee dates with friends and spending time with my boyfriend. Outside of work, classes or socializing, I was then, either studying or helping my mum around home. Sure, I was averaging 7-8 hours sleep, I had a great social life, I was making great money. But rest or down time, was pretty well non-existent. “Days off” would quickly fill up with errands or back-to-back catchups. Every few weeks, a late night out would tip me over and I would start to feel it, and my body would sentence me to bed for a week.
Was this ‘rest’? A forced rest, from over-exerting myself? Holed up in bed, in a headspace where I could hardly appreciate the down time, mind constantly planning ahead to all the things that would need doing? When the time to rest was finally created… I now realise I didn’t even really know how to rest.
Not knowing how to slow down and rest is pretty standard these days. When the mind doesn’t know how to chill out, it will do what it does knows best with that time – think! Of what’s happened, what’s happening and what’s ahead. I feel this lack of knowledge is a major contributor to the constant state of “busy-ness” we find ourselves in. It has definitely been a learning curve – learning how to get through that mental chit-chat that was keeping me in the rushed mode, but I’m certainly feeling better for it.
I see the tendency to leave out ‘rest’ everywhere – students, new parents, colleagues, in my own family and friends.
As a yoga teacher, I even see it in time-poor students who roll up their mats as I start to cue savasana.
Most people, if asked, would say they do not have time to schedule any consistent time for rest in their schedules. We have too much to do, too many responsibilities, too many bills and a shitload of urgency thrown on top of it all.
Can you relate to this tendency? I mean, it really is easy to put off rest, put off relaxation, put off the things that make us happy, when we are focused on specific goals and deadlines. When we are working hard on an upcoming project or locking down during the exam period, the things we do for pleasure or to unwind, take the backseat- heck, even some daily essentials are put off in pursuing the goal at hand. Once it’s all over, rather than slowing down, relaxing and doing the things we enjoy, there is suddenly a backlog of ‘life admin’ to sort out. The next major task is only a week away. You might squeeze in a couple of nights out in the midst… The days pass and we find ourselves right back where we began, hustling hard once more and the ‘busy-ness ’cycle continues.
Being ‘busy’ is glorified in today’s culture. Working hard is glorified in today’s culture. Often those who choose a slower schedule are regarded by others as lazy or “lacking drive”. What is with this judgment people?!! This hectic pace of living is damaging to our quality of life! For some it can even lead to burnout, adrenal fatigue and contribute to other mental health problems.
Relaxing is not something that should just be reserved for holidays when you’re on the lying on the beach, cocktail in hand – it is a necessity.
A decent break can release the reigns of our adrenals and bring us back to a more mindful and energised mental state. You will get more done, and faster if you step back and recharge the brain and body. Studies show that our performance levels increase after breaks of all durations: from extended vacations down to microbreaks of 30 seconds.
We are human beings and we aren’t designed to continuously expend energy. Just as batteries needs recharging to power our devices, we too need to regularly fill up our cups to be able to be more effective with our time and lead a more fulfilled life.
So, take a break! Enjoy your down time, however that looks like for you. Call a friend while you do your nails, take a yoga class, go for a walk without your mobile, get some sun on your skin. If you’re seriously time-poor and chained to your desk, simply close your eyes and take 5 deep, mindful breaths. It’s amazing the clarity that even a few focused breaths can bring.
This week I invite you to take a look at your schedule and carve some time out to rest. When you make your time off as important as your time on, your mind, body and productivity levels will thank you for it.
Work hard, play hard and rest hard too!