“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.”
― Maya Angelou,
We’ve all heard the expression: Work hard, Play hard but I propose:
Work hard, Play Hard, and Rest Hard.
I am great at work hard and play hard but I’m not so great at rest hard. And, resting hard would definitely round my life out in a much healthier way. It doesn’t help that I am some version of an introverted-extrovert, meaning that I love being social but I also need a lot of time to recharge between social events. But, because there are always so many opportunities to do fun social things, I am awful at allowing myself the time in between that I need to rest.
Then I hit a wall.
Lucky for me, my wall is usually an immediate need to sleep or a migraine (those started a few years ago). As opposed to developing more serious health conditions which may happen over time if I keep hitting these walls. You see, our bodies are not too concerned with being social and keeping up with deadlines as much as they are with maintaining health and staying alive. When I push myself past what I should, my body will give me little hints that I’m heading for a wall. I might start to develop symptoms associated with a migraine or I might just feel worn down and fatigued. I also become more grouchy and irritable with a lower tolerance for daily life stressors.
If you don’t pay attention to the hints your body will do a force shut down. For some that can be a serious illness. Prolonged stress (even positive stress like social engagements) can cause real physiological changes in your body and over time your body will force you into a state of rest and you might not like what that looks like. Arianna Huffington, talks candidly in her book Thrive about her experience with literally crashing to the ground after consistently working 18 hour days and trying to be everything to everyone.
“When she returned home to New York, Huffington was standing in her living room one day when she collapsed, hitting her head on a desk on the way down and breaking her cheekbone. The accident, which she said was caused by exhaustion, served as a “wake-up call.” OLGA KHAZAN (2014)
I think one of the biggest barriers we face in terms of the rest hard component is the idea that resting means your lazy or weak. Or, the idea that I don’t have time to rest! I’m not sure how this came to be or why that is the social narrative but it is a destructive story. Like we talked about in The Finish Line is Death, we are told that we are only worthwhile when we are engaging in some activity and if we are not engaging in some activity we better have a valid (usually physical health related) excuse for not doing so. I wonder what would happen if we could call into work “overwhelmed” or “stressed” or “sad and worried” which often precede physical illness.
I am contemplating these concepts this morning because I recently hit a wall again and felt an emotional wave of shame after it happened. For me, when I don’t feel well physically, I often don’t feel well emotionally. I think I forget that my brain is an organ inside my body and if I don’t take care of my physical health it will directly impact my emotional health.
So, I encourage you to pay attention to the little hints your mind and body toss at you. You need to give yourself permission to slow down or stop because no one else is going to do that for you (only you know how you feel). And, when you feel like you need to push through remind yourself that you are causing real damage to your body and a little bit of rest (or a lot of rest) would do you good.
It is okay to take a break.
It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or that you’re not working towards your goals, it just means you’re tired and you need to get some rest so that you can be the best and healthiest version of yourself.
And you get to be tired sometimes and that is enough of an excuse rest.
“Sleep deprivation reduces our emotional intelligence, self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, empathy toward others, the quality of our interpersonal relationships, positive thinking, and impulse control.”
― Arianna Huffington,