The one thing you are worthy of but spend your time avoiding (and 4 tips to fix it).
My mom has taught me how to do a ton of amazing things, I can throw together a dinner for 20 people without breaking a sweat, figure out a thoughtful gift for under 20 dollars, and sew anything from evening gowns to curtains. My mom has taught me how to be thoughtful in little ways, how to work hard, and how to care for people even when you are tired. Pretty much anything she knows how to do, she shares.
But there is one thing that she didn’t teach me and I am pretty sure it isn’t because she wanted me to suffer, it’s because she hasn’t figured it out for herself yet.
She never taught me how to rest.
Full disclosure, I only discovered this in the last few weeks with the clarity that comes with being quarantined. So many things have been closed and cancelled that I have had a lot more time on my hands. And so I have done what I know how to do, stay busy, work hard, try to help other people, when in doubt- do a craft. And these things truly make up who I am.
But then as I lie awake, waiting for my 5:15 am alarm to go off, riddled with anxiety about my day (another trait I am pretty sure I share with my mom, although she hasn’t ever needed an alarm) I think about a phrase that I read a few weeks ago in the book Untamed, by Glennon Doyle.
“I am worthy of rest.”
For some reason, the word “worthy” struck me. Lots of us say we deserve happiness, love, freedom etc. but “deserve” definitely has a more entitled sound to it, like someone is denying us those things. I’m not a big fan of entitlement. But the word “worthy” seems to embody compassion, respect, and intrinsic value.
Anyway, without dragging you through my early morning struggles with semantics I have realized that a lot of people, especially nurses, struggle with taking the rest they are worthy of, or maybe they struggle with the fact that they're even worthy of it in the first place.
This is a problem because the body needs rest to restore itself.
Right now I think we are all in need of being restored, revitalized. Agreed?
Having a full life can be great but at some point it starts to wear you down and you stop out of sheer exhaustion. Even worse, we can start to resent the things that we chose to fill our lives up with in the first place. Sound familiar?
So what’s the answer? We try things like getting a manicure, or meeting a friend for lunch. We talk about self care like it is another task that we can cross off the list, something that we can “get done.” We tell each other “Put on your own oxygen mask first so you can help others. You can’t help anyone if you don’t help yourself.”
This isn’t what I am talking about. Worthy of rest has no strings attached.
So how do we rest? How do we learn this foreign skill?
It’s simple and it’s only 4 steps.
1. Plan it. Put it on the calendar. “Down time- Tuesday 6-8.” Maybe your plan includes how you are going to rest (surf Pinterest while lying on the hammock), or take a nap, or maybe it’s just see what you feel like in the moment (imagine that). Trust me on this, it feels amazing to get to your scheduled down time and just pick how to spend it. Give yourself permission to not be busy.
2. Resist the urge to negotiate when the time comes to rest. All of a sudden you will have just a few things to do first. DO NOT THROW IN LAUNDRY. Don’t listen to the thoughts that it doesn’t matter and that the other things are more important. Honor your plan to yourself.
Be a person who does what you say you are going to do.
3. Look forward to it. This isn’t a punishment, people. Try saying, “I can’t wait to rest from 6-8 pm on Tuesday.” You are less likely to negotiate if you have been looking forward to it all day. There’s also the added benefit of your other obligations being less burdensome when you have scheduled downtime. Maybe a 2 hour block once a week isn’t realistic for where you are in your life right now but maybe 15 minutes after work every day is, or an hour on a Saturday morning. Maybe you say no to something else to make the time (gasp). Remind yourself,
“I am worthy of rest."
4. Set yourself up for success and plan to get your other stuff done another time. This isn’t going to work if you allow yourself to be scattered or worried about everything else. You ARE worthy of rest but you may need to work a little for it.
Pick how you want to do your life so you can do it all.
Before you tell me it won’t work, here are some tips that may help.
Look at your to do list and schedule the things that are on it- this gives you more time not less because then you can be efficient.
If something comes up, rearrange your other scheduled time, not your down time.
Think of your to-do list as a work day and schedule it so you can get out on time.
Don't waste time on stuff that really doesn't matter.
Spend a few minutes actually thinking through how long each thing will take you and when that can happen. Realistic planning can change everything.
Schedule catch up time if you need to.
Write it down- this isn't a mental exercise. You may need to refer back to your plan
This isn’t step 4 by mistake. Step 1 is "Schedule the rest-time" and WORK AROUND THAT.
Some people are good at rest. If that’s you I will do my best not to be envious; maybe share this with the person in your life that you feel is worthy of rest but may not know it. For those of you who haven’t learned how to rest yet,
try it, it feels great.You are worthy of it.
Now to tell my mom...