Through the years of recovery, I was faced with the same daily dilemma – my body was achy, fatigued and ready to rest. But my mind always convinced me that I “didn’t get enough done today” and I “shouldn’t waste time resting.”
Wait a minute… Am I some sort of super human?
Everything and everyone in life needs a break. There are cycles of the year that help nature “rest” from always producing and creating. Even computers need restarting after hours of use.
What makes me so special that I can defy the laws of nature?
But the more I heard the words “rest” and “slow down”, the more I resisted and avoided the topic. At the same time, the binges and emotional eating became worse and worse… Until the day came when I HAD to address it.
Going through recovery I realized I had no choice but to learn how to embrace rest. Here are 4 key things I learned on my journey to a more restful life.
1. Slow your mind
I always thought I was a “pro-rester” because I could easily fall asleep or was able to stay in a hot bath for 15 minutes straight. Boy, was I wrong!
The true power of the mind became clear to me when I went to a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Within 3 days of no distraction, I was praying that my mind would just STOP with all that thinking. But I couldn’t find the off-switch.
Then suddenly, things finally became clear – my mind has been making me sick all this time.
As alien as it felt at first and the resistance I felt towards starting meditation (you mean I don’t need to shave my hair and wear an orange gown to meditate?), when I finally gave in, I couldn’t see my life without it.
I found the stop switch that would help me be in the here and now, reduce anxiety, cravings and urges, and even help manage physical pain caused by binge-eating.
Today, meditation is as necessary as brushing my teeth or doing laundry. Four days without it and I feel like an overwhelmed mess.
Imagine if we gave same attention and self-care to the mind as we do to our physical body. How would things be different? Find a way to take care of your mind today.
2. Do nothing
I swear the first few times I heard the suggestion “do nothing,” I thought I was pretty good at it.
I would sit on the sofa, read some trade magazine, journal about my feelings or write lists for the next day, week and months to come.
It is only when my therapist pointed out that writing lists, planning and stressing about tomorrow is still DOING.
I started to listen closely, rather terrified. Some serious effort later, I finally got into a habit of taking a couple of days off per month.
I close my work calendar, switch off my phone, and get some real ME time. Just me. Resting, playing with the thoughts in my mind and wishing I wasn’t feeling guilty doing nothing.
After a couple of months of this practice, something incredible started happening. At the end of day two I would burst into tears of joy.
I had newfound gratitude for my life, my journey and my commitment to it. All down to the medicine of allowing myself to do nothing rather than be afraid of it.
3. Commit to doing 30% less
My upbringing taught me that being busy is a virtue.
Doing more and more and more meant you’re hard-working, industrious and a bright future is ahead of you. Right?
But when I realized that my “bright future” was also making me burnt-out, sick and miserable, something had to change.
I have to admit, sometimes I still go overboard with my lists before I catch my mind playing tricks on me once again.
Some of these affirmations helped me silence the army lieutenant in my head. Hope they can help you too:
Doing 30% less is perfect.
By doing less, I am making space for what matters most for me.
I am showing up every day and that is enough.
I am a perfectly imperfect human.
My best is enough.
Really think about all your commitments and how busy your schedule is. What can you cut out to commit to doing 30% less?
4. Take mini- breaks
In the past, taking some time off just to sit down or drink my tea would feel “lazy”. I simply would not do it.
I would try answer my emails while cleaning the kitchen, listen to a podcast while shopping and add items to my list while on the toilet (what if I forget to do it?).
My incredible “time management” would lead to complete exhaustion by 6:00 p.m. and apathy to socialize or do anything fun. Which in turn – would lead me to binge. Pretty miserable, huh?
The trick that has helped me get my energy back and feel like I’m actually living my life, not just living to work, is to take mini-breaks of 10-15 minutes every couple of hours to just sit down, without any distractions and REST.
If you need a timer to remind you to do this, go for it! Just make sure you actually use the time to rest (no cheating!).
Remember that rest is essential not only to recovery, but to life. If you take time to make rest a priority, you’ll find that you have more energy to full appreciate and enjoy the life you have.