We learned (the hard way) that rest is a reward.
Let's challenge that! Rest is a RIGHT!
Contrary to popular belief, rest is not a reward but instead an essential part of your health and healing journey (a.k.a. your life).
The old (often unspoken) rules say …
You must earn your rest.
You must demonstrate your need to rest and relax through excellent productivity skills or your failing health.
A nap is ok but only if you are sick or exhausted.
You can relax on vacation, 2 weeks a year if you are privileged and lucky.
The old rules go on to say that even if you follow the rules above, resting, relaxing and nourishing yourself is selfish. That’s why we call it a guilty pleasure. I used to reward myself with rest and relaxation too but now, all of my “guilty pleasures” have become my core self-care practices and I have no guilt or apology for that.
Saving rest for the weekends or relaxation for vacations didn’t serve me either because my body and brain forgot how to relax in between. It took the entire time I had saved for resting to learn how to rest again and just about the time I felt rested, it was time to rev up again. I didn’t have time to linger or marinate in the restful state I desperately needed.
There are seasons of life when it’s harder to find the time to rest so when I do have the time, I don’t waste it trying to be extra productive. I use it taking really good care of myself so I have the resilience to navigate the less restful seasons.
When faced with numerous responsibilities and tasks or the demands of an illness, relaxation techniques may not be a priority in your life. But that means you might miss out on the health benefits of relaxation.
Practicing relaxation techniques can have many benefits, including:
Slowing heart rate
Lowering blood pressure
Slowing your breathing rate
Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
Reducing activity of stress hormones
Increasing blood flow to major muscles
Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
Improving concentration and mood
Improving sleep quality
Reducing anger and frustration
Boosting confidence to handle problems
THE REST MANIFESTO (10 new rules to help you reclaim your right to relax)
1. Thou shalt read a good book or listen to relaxing music and enjoy a cup of tea before checking email or social media.
2. Thou shalt take a nap or a bath long before there is a check mark next to every single thing on the to-do list.
3. Thou shalt not wait for the weekend to rest or for a vacation to relax.
4. Thou shalt not apologize for resting and relaxing.
5. Thou shalt watch an episode of your favorite show or go for a walk before finishing the dishes or cleaning up the house.
6. Thou shalt ease through hard days instead of pushing through them.
7. When people tell you, “No pain, no gain” or “I’m so busy” or “I can sleep when I’m dead,” thou shalt tell people to eff-off or simply smile and share The Rest Manifesto.
8. Thou shalt use free time to be free and not to catch up (and there shalt be no worry about catching up after rest and relaxation).
9. Thou shalt not compare productivity or busyness, understanding that it only glorifies the thing that is tearing us down and wearing us out.
10. Thou shalt relax and claim your rest as a right not a reward.
Please adjust these rules to fit your own seasons and lifestyle. Make them work for you, starting right now.
Text by Courtney Carver
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