In today's society, our 'hard work pays off' slogan has managed to create a toxic work place mindset that pushes away the idea of rest to the downfall of our health.
I am currently reading Gabor Mate's new book, The Myth of Normal. He explains that the health crisis that is facing us today is not normal (though we now view it as a norm) and that it is the result of a toxic culture. I would recommend reading it, but it isn't an easy read... physically it is a 500+ page book. Though the hardest part is the first few chapters and the recognition you'll face in how disease is so connected to the state of bodymind health. You'll recognize facets of your family & friend's, and yourself, and in the face of this it can be emotionally overwhelming. Getting though those first few chapters though is tremendously worth it.
Part of our toxic culture is our 'hard working' attitude. It has created 12 hour work days, the ability to 'work anywhere' with our devices, the habit of 'checking in' and replying to the boss's request at all hours. I could continue with so much more, like the mental load of motherhood, but let's leave it at the work place. ;) With all of this overstimulation, and sense of nowhere to hide, rest has become so much more needed than just sleep. This goes beyond self-care, but you may notice many connections.
Let's assume (incorrectly I am guessing) that you are getting a full 8 hours sleep, yet you are still waking up feeling exhausted. Sleep itself is only one of the seven types of rest. Let's look at them. As you read these, think about your life and which part may be draining you the most.
1. Sleep or Physical Rest. Yes of course! Getting proper sleep hygiene set up and 7-8 hours (or so) a night is one of the seven key points. If you would like to read more, visit this article.
2. Mental rest. Stop keeping your to do list in your head. Write it down. Meditation is always a good recommendation... as is creating a shutdown routine to separate your work life from your home life.
3. Sensory Rest. We can all use this. We are constantly bombarded with not only ads, but screens, social media, and notifications on our devices. Can you take a break from social media? Scrolling? Binge-watching TV? Start by turning off your notifications on your phone and setting up a 'do not disturb' time zone. Mine is set from 8pm to 8am. There is also a setting on my phone that switches it from a colour screen to black & white for those same hours. Highly recommend!
4. Creative Rest. This one is actually about doing something rather than reducing an activity. Get out in nature, look at some art, set up your surrounding to inspire you. Check out these 2 office set ups... Which one do you think would inspire a creative mind?
5. Emotional Rest. Phew, this one is tough, especially when you have grown up being more of a people-pleaser. There are many recommendations on learning how to be your authentic self, setting boundaries, and saying no. I'll write about this another day. For now, note that this exhaustion usually co-exists with Social exhaustion.
6. Social Rest. We need to surround ourselves with relationships that are healthy, or be able to set boundaries with those we cherish who drain us emotionally. Introvert? Extrovert? Know your level of interaction and build your support network accordingly.
7. Spiritual Rest. Connect with something bigger than yourself. Traditionally we automatically think of religion, but many of us don't follow that doctrine. The one downside I have recognized in this is the loss of community. You have to admit, when you follow/belong to a religious group, there is a strong sense of community. So, find your community. Whether it is a yoga studio, the community you live in, somewhere you would like to volunteer, or even as simple as a regular group fitness class. Connect with others, reach out. It is highly likely that the first step of reaching out will reach someone else needing the same thing.
I do hope that one or 2 of these points has sparked a few ideas in your mind and heart. If you are looking for a little bit more, these 7 points come from Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith. She has a great 9 min Ted Talk about it.
Rest isn't just about sleep and spa days. Let's do better!