“Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.”
It’s easy for somebody on the outside to tell you that you should get some rest this holiday season, take a break from always caring for everybody else, and finally, for once, take care of you. It’s a lot different for you to implement rest and down-time in your own life. If it were easy, you would have already done it. But it’s not easy. It’s really, really challenging.
When you make the conscious decision to do less, fear comes up (whether you recognize it or not). In some cases, a lot of fear. And fear can have an incredibly powerful hold over us, which is why it makes the easiest-seeming thing ever (take a nap already!) seem like the most challenging task in the world. So challenging, in fact, that you decide to chuck the idea of slowing down, and instead continue to plod on through the endless busy-ness that has overtaken your existence. But there is another option, a conscious intervention you can create for yourself. Which brings us back to the leap of faith that rest requires. In order for you to incorporate rest into your holiday season (or your life, for that matter), you first need to look honestly at your fears. Find out what they are. They might look a little something like these:
- What if I take a nap, and my partner thinks I’m being a bad parent to my children?
- What if people call me selfish for taking care of myself?
- What if I take a day off and forget to do something at work and get fired for it?
- What if all my success comes crumbling down if I don’t stay as busy as I’ve been for so long?
- What if I don’t deserve to rest, because I haven’t yet proved myself worthy?
- What if we do fewer activities this holiday season, and the whole family hates it, and my children are scarred for the rest of their lives because of it?
These fears are valid. So valid. I’ve had them, my clients have had them, and pretty much everybody I’ve ever known has had them. In contrast to what a lot of people will tell you, I don’t think you need to make these fears go away. I do think it’s helpful to acknowledge them, and then decide to take a short leap of faith — more of a hop of faith, really — into taking a little rest even though the fear is there. I’d recommend you start small, so that the leap you need to take really does look like more of a hop. What might an itty bitty step in the direction of rest look like for you?
- A twenty minute nap?
- Sleeping in an hour later one day this weekend?
- Taking a bath?
- Scheduling a massage for yourself?
- Spending an afternoon reading fiction, just for fun?
- Declining one holiday party invitation, and staying home instead?
These are just ideas. The ideas that come to you will be even more perfectly suited to your own life, so I encourage you to run with whatever pops into your brain. That will be your perfect first step toward rest. Once you’ve decided what your first itty bitty step will be, now comes the time to hop gently into the unknown. You don’t know yet whether everything will come crumbling down when you take a rest, but my guess (based on years of experience both personal and professional) is that it won’t. If it still feels too scary to take the rest that you’ve selected, you need to go smaller. If thinking about taking a twenty minute nap makes you want to hide in a closet, maybe you could try lying down on your bed for five minutes.
Now. Take the rest, and see what happens.
Most likely, you’ll exit the experiment really excited that you took a rest for yourself, and more ready to meet life’s challenges capably. If this happens, I encourage you to set a slightly larger goal for your next rest. After all, you leapt and landed safely the last time. If your rest didn’t go so well, don’t be deterred. Try resting another way. Try resting smaller. Try anything besides concluding that you’ll never be able to take care of yourself adequately.
I promise you that there’s a way to make rest work for you. More than that, I promise you that resting more often will make your life better, and richer, and even more productive. It will benefit your family, your friends, and your coworkers both directly and indirectly.
Looking back on this moment, you’ll be so very thankful to yourself that you took that little hop of faith into the unknown world of rest.
Kylie Bellard is an empowerment coach and photographer who teaches people how to like themselves so they can bring all their wonderfulness to the world. You can find her on Twitter as @kyliewriteshere, or read more of her words at Effervescence.me.