Well, posting weekly didn’t quite go the way I’d planned in November! Unsurprising really, as we had a baby (and by we I mean my sister who I live with), so the month got took over a bit! I also started a new job (just to compound things!) so it’s been busy. And busyness always makes me think about resting.
I have a troubled relationship with rest because I seem to require a lot but I find it easy to be highly self-critical about it. About needing it at all, about how much I need. I can sit and “do nothing” (which is basically part of what I need to decompress) and a stream of “why don’t you go and do your chores. You’ve got to do this and this and this. You’re resting too much. You’re lazy” pours through my head. It’s quite frustrating sometimes, because I neither rest properly nor do the chores.
However, I also know the consequences if I don’t rest.
One consequence is increased frequency and intensity of catastrophic thinking. A perfectly ordinary circumstance can happen, maybe one that’s a little difficult, and I immediately begin to worry that the rest of my life will be like this and that will be terrible!
Maybe I’ve needed to give some extra help to my sister, but because I haven’t rested enough recently, I’m already stressed and exhausted, and I find it easy to think “I just can’t do this!!” and want to run out of the room crying.
Or maybe I’ve been asked to do some extra tasks at work and similarly, immediately start thinking “I just can’t do this!!!” and imagine what incorporating these difficult new tasks into the rest of my life will require.
No one is saying it needs to be forever. It’s just one extra thing just for now. But if I haven’t rested well enough or frequently enough, I go straight from zero to 100 on the doom scale.
For some of us, and by which I mean, probably every human, a lack of rest makes it extremely easy to be cranky. Short fused. Yell at your kids etc. Not have the patience to be polite. Just running out of energy for the social grease that keeps the wheels of life turning happily and projects empathy and respect to the people we’re interacting with. It’s “taking your family for granted” territory. It is so hard to be patient, humble, kind, thoughtful and generous when you’ve not rested.
So, maybe your rest challenges are different to mine. It’s not so much a stream of self-criticism as finding any time at all to rest, or not knowing yourself well enough yet to know what really fills your cup.
But I do know that unless we sort those challenges out and figure out how to rest well in a way that works for us, we’ll just exhaust ourselves trying to still be patient and thoughtful and kind when we have no energy for it, or explode ourselves, probably all over the people we love.
I’m fortunate that my sister deeply understands my need to rest and is usually better at predicting when I’ll need it than I am myself. She knows me well. She knows when 5-7 hours with people will just completely wipe me out so she assumes I’ll need to rest and not necessarily be available to her for a little while. I am so thankful to live with someone who gets that and supports me in resting. And it’s true that once I’ve rested I am ready for the fray again, and able to be kind and creative in helping with the kids and general life duties.
But I also need to take responsibility for it myself. Make sure I get the rest I need when I can so that I can tell the self-critical voice “I will do that. But later. Right now I’m doing something very important. I’m resting.”