Living in a productivity-driven society creates pressure to constantly be doing. We are often praised for spreading ourselves thin and running ourselves ragged. Burnout is worn as a badge of honor and it’s encouraged to push through the exhaustion, sadness, grief, anxiety, anger, or anything else that might get in the way of us doing.
Of course, the workforce is not structured in a way that allows frequent rest if we want to survive, especially in places like New York City where the cost of living is high and consumer culture is ever-present. So we work our extra hours. We take on side hustles. We tolerate mistreatment. We keep doing.
In the midst of constantly keeping busy, rest tends to rank low on the priority hierarchy. What many do not realize is the impact this has on our ability to heal. Our bodies need rest in order to restore mentally, physically, and emotionally. Resting frequently can help boost our immune systems, improve our memory, access our creativity, manage pain, and better regulate our emotions.
So, how do I rest? The first step to incorporating rest into your routine is recognizing that there are different forms of rest. This includes physical, mental, social, and emotional rest. Physical rest can look like getting to bed early, taking a nap during the day, or skipping that intense workout when you are feeling fatigued. Mental rest can include turning off electronics, taking frequent breaks, or spending time in nature. Social rest might mean spending more time with people who nourish you or taking some time alone. Resting emotionally can be practiced by journaling, engaging in therapy, or expressing your feelings to a loved one. Rest looks different for everybody, and our needs for different types of rest vary from day to day.
But what about rest is so radical? Our Western brains have been conditioned to think that our worth is tied to our productivity and that we must constantly be creating. Being intentional about resting is an act of rebellion against the idealized capitalist work ethic that leads us to abandon so many parts of ourselves. Rest gives us permission to exist as we are without any outcome. It allows us to connect, restore, and nourish ourselves in ways that we cannot when we are simply running on fumes. Rest can move us from complacency to activism. It can bring us from a life of survival to fulfillment. So take rest well and often. Allow that to be enough.