In an age where our digital calendars are at our fingertips, our headphones no longer have cords, and our watches buzz to remind us to stand, we are constantly reminded of just how busy we are. Sometimes it feels like our technology no longer accommodates our busy schedules as much as it demands it. Wearing that computer on your wrist, answering every phone call you get, and attending every Zoom meeting all seem to reinforce the same message: your level of busyness determines the level of your importance. It is as if the more unavailable you are to others, the more valuable you are to society. Your productivity equates to your worth.
If there is one thing that a global pandemic taught us, it’s that the world needed a pause. It needed a rest. Employees who commuted and took elevators up skyscrapers became uncomfortably and acutely aware that the world moved on without them. The boardrooms of high-powered executives became irrelevant as cubicles quickly emptied and meetings took place over a computer screen rather than a long oak table. They were forced to retreat into their homes and hole up in the silence of their own walls.
In the time of post-COVID-19 recovery, you may be feeling like you need to go back to your pre-COVID schedule, full of in-person meetings, business lunches, and conference calls. You’ve most likely been in isolation for the past year and a half, and you may feel the pressure to resume your fully automated, pre-scheduled life once again. In times like these, you must remember the lessons that COVID-19 taught us all. It is crucial that you give yourself permission to rest.
Every human being needs rest to survive. Physical rest gives our body the sleep that it requires to function. In the same way that our body needs rest, so does our mind. We are constantly bombarded with messages throughout the day, not only text messages and emails, but also messages of who we “should be,” what kind of employees, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives -- what kind of people -- we “should be.” It’s a lot to take in, mentally. It’s a lot of information to consume and process. However, resting allows us the time to put that all aside. It forces us to unload the information that is overloading us. It will enable our minds to sit in the quiet with themselves. And in the quiet, we find clarity.
Ovid once said, “Take a rest. A field that has rested yields a beautiful crop.” Rest is a time when we can renew our hearts, bodies, and minds. Merriam Webster defines “renew” as “to make like new: restore to freshness, vigor, or perfection.” If you don’t allow yourself the time of relaxation and reflection, you can become overloaded, overwhelmed, and unbearable to be around. Rested versions of ourselves become the better versions of ourselves. When you get an adequate amount of sleep, you experience lower cortisol levels, fewer addictive urges, and more effective coping skills. Rested humans are kinder humans.
Rest is a time of reflection, renewal, and thus renovation. When you think of “renovation,” you probably think of renovating a house. The process of renovation is arduous, and it takes a lot of time. It starts with “gutting,” or “cleaning out,” the house and all of its old debris. Similarly, when you give yourself time to rest, you give yourself permission to reflect and consider how you need to change. It is during those times of reflection or meditation that you may realize the unhealthy habits you need to cut from your life, the unhelpful people you need to distance yourself from, or the unkind thoughts about yourself that you need to change. In her book, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katherine May reflects, “Nobody had ever said to me before, ‘You need to live a life that you can cope with, not the one that other people want. Start saying no.’”
Rest enables our cells to regenerate. Rest “recharges the batteries,” so to speak. If you don’t allow your body to rest like a computer, it will eventually shut down. It will stop working. However, when you take the time to rest, you give your body and mind the time that it needs to refuel and re-energize. The American physiologist Josephine Langworthy Rathbone once said, “If we could learn how to balance rest against effort, calmness against strain, quiet against turmoil, we would assure ourselves of joy in living and psychological health for life.” Such mental and physical rest leads to refreshed spirits and renewed energies.
The next time you’re tempted to skip that time away on Saturday and keep plugging away at work, remember the four “Rs” of rest: relaxation, renewal, renovation, and re-energizing. Rest is crucial for so many reasons. Maya Angelou once said, “Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” Rest allows us to withdraw, reflect, and, eventually, become the best version of ourselves.
Rest is a critical part of the human experience. We cannot function long-term if we do not allow ourselves the time to rest. It’s also essential for your mental health and wellbeing. If you struggle with anxiety and cannot find the mental rest you need, consider seeking outside counsel and treatment. The clinical professionals at Achieve Medical Center can offer you ways to cope healthily with your busy schedule and provide you with the tools you need to relax. Patients seeking to improve their mental health visit our centers in California, Oregon, and Alaska to receive wellness services that address a wide range of conditions and improve the quality of their lives. We are a unique, multidisciplinary, private psychiatric and mental health practice and provide comprehensive and compassionate mental health and wellness services to children, adolescents, and adults. Call Achieve Medical Center at (866) 657-6592 to schedule a consultation and learn more about the services we provide.