Making Room for Rest

When was the last time you felt completely well-rested? A couple of years back, the National Sleep Association conducted a survey in which 68% of people desired more rest. Whether you’re passing a colleague in the hallway, making it to happy hour in the nick of time, or catching up with your roommate at the end of the day, expressing your exhaustion has seemingly become a new club to join. 

I truly believe being burnt out isn’t as stigmatized in today’s society as it should be. Instead, what’s condemned is feeling lazy and unproductive in a society filled with endless opportunities at your fingertips, so, really, when is there time to rest without feeling this way? Let me tell you something. Rest doesn’t always look like an “Are you still watching?†screen on Netflix and your hand at the bottom of a kettle-cooked bag of chips (though it definitely can!). Rest is making yourself a warm cup of tea or milk before bed. Rest is taking ten extra minutes in the shower to finally use that new exfoliating scrub. Rest is signing up for a fitness class, which your heart rate may tell you otherwise. When it comes down to it, rest is whatever helps you refresh and recover, and that doesn’t always entail stillness or silence. 

Turning tired into triumph

It’s easy to replace these moments of recovery with thoughts and action items to “get ahead†in our lives, and though a majority of these tasks are inescapable, it’s our mindset and self-prioritization that’ll come to our rescue. A good practice that has now become habitual to my everyday life is eliminating phrases like, “I’m so tired!†and replacing them with the larger-picture outcome of why I’m feeling that way. Here’s what I mean: Swamped at work? “I have so many deadlines coming up. I’m so…eager to see how these finished projects will help my team reach our quarterly goals.†Endless house chores? “I just rearranged my entire living room. I feel so…refreshed in this new environment I created.†This big picture exercise can help you avoid getting trapped into today’s go-to negativity bias and back and forth complaints to relate to one another’s daily stressors. Trust me, it’s a great exercise to start mentally chasing away clouds of fatigue in your life while having the potential to add some sunshine to others. 

Your rest is your intention

“If you get tired, learn to rest. Not to quit.†When I absorb this quote by Banksy I grasp onto a sense of self-apathy – allowing various factors to wear you down to a point where you consider having to walk away or give up on your progress already made. We’re all guilty of this to some degree, and I can’t help but think of the projects, hobbies, and ideas I too soon abandoned because I was feeling tired. Yes, feeling tired is normal, but so is taking a moment to check in with yourself and reestablish a routine that best serves you and your body so you can keep moving forward without taking physical, mental, and emotional steps back.  

By the way, here’s to your hard work and the momentous path you’ve created thus far. If there’s anyone who deserves a relaxation reward, it’s you! Proper rest and self-care aren’t just needed to simply prevent the serious effects of exhaustion and fatigue. While that may be obvious, many overlook the deeper meaning of rest – finding and defining your true self and belonging. Because while you’re racing against the clock, aiming towards your moment to breathe, your moment to breathe is always there, waiting to uncover and pursue your true direction. 

I’m going to leave you with the story of the Mexican fisherman – a parable with a profound lesson that your time now is as precious as it’ll ever be.

The story of the Mexican fisherman

An American was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  The American complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more? 

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. 

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?â€

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.†

The American scoffed, “I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution.â€

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?â€

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.â€

“But what then?†Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part…you would make millions!â€

“Millions – then what?â€

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.â€

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