Krista is taking the month of July for some much-needed rest, but because Krista is a high-functioning person who is very good at GETTING STUFF DONE (she has, in the past, had seven part-time jobs at once, while raising children and running a church) and not very good at slowing down and letting other people get stuff done without her, she is resisting (and sometimes sending me belligerent texts as a result). I love her dearly, so I’m doing whatever I can to take things off her plate and guard the boundaries so that she can rest (just as she has done for me many times in our relationship), even if that means putting up with her snarkiness. (She’s only snarky because she knows I’m right!)
Just for fun, I thought I’d write an admittedly rather passive aggressive post about why I really want her to get some rest.
It’s not just for her, though, it’s for YOU too! Because I want ALL of us to get the rest we need and are worthy of. Rest isn’t just the way we replenish ourselves, it’s the way that we disrupt the patterns that have been handed down to us by oppressive systems that have, for too long, taught us that our productivity is the way we measure our value. I want to live in a culture in which ALL of us have intrinsic value, whether or not we are productive, and so I want us to learn to value rest more. (To give credit where credit is due, much of what I’ve learned about rest is inspired by Tricia Hersey, the founder of The Nap Ministry and the author of the book, Rest is Resistance.)
Here’s why you should rest:
- A rested brain is a more creative brain. Think about it – have you ever created something magical, whether it’s a delicious meal or a work of art, that you’re particularly proud of, when you’re in a state of exhaustion? No, when you’re exhausted, your brain is too focused on survival and just getting the essentials looked after and it has no room for creativity and play. To access the creative and playful parts of your brain, you need rest.
- Rest makes you kinder. One of the first indicators that I need to set aside time for rest is that I start getting crankier with people and become resentful of whatever they request of me. I’m always disappointed with myself when I treat people that way, so to avoid it, I have to make sure that I’m as well rested as possible. Well rested people have more capacity for healthy relationships.
- Rest soothes and resets your nervous system. Let’s face it – the last few years has been A LOT and we are all walking around with activated nervous systems because of it. Our poor nervous systems need a break from reacting to all of the hard stuff that the world keeps throwing at us. Rest helps our bodies reset themselves so that we are more resilient in the face of it all.
- Grind culture is abusive, and you don’t want to perpetuate the abuse. As Tricia Hersey teaches, capitalism was built on slavery. The use and abuse of bodies is baked into its DNA. We’ve all learned that productivity makes us valuable in a capitalist system, and so we push our bodies too far in our efforts to prove our worth. That’s a system that needs to be disrupted and divested of. A more humane system is one that incorporates rest.
- Rest teaches your children that they can rest too. To disrupt the harm done to our ancestors, the harm that we continue to perpetuate by being well-behaved capitalists, we have to be intentional about teaching our children that rest is worthwhile and that it doesn’t diminish our value. They’re paying attention to the ways we treat ourselves and if we continuously exhaust ourselves, they’ll be inclined to carry on those patterns.
- When we rest, we send a message to people that we value them whether or not they make measurable contributions to a capitalist system. Our systems have consistently undervalued those whose disabilities and/or chronic pain make it hard (or impossible) for them to work. If we consistently work ourselves to exhaustion, we’re modeling and upholding a values system that continues to marginalize people who can’t do the same.
- Rest makes it easier to access your joy and pleasure. When you’ve worn yourself out, the world starts looking rather flat and grey and it’s hard to find the joy in living. When you value rest and you actively seek it out, you slow down enough to experience more awe and wonder in the way you witness the world, and that brings joy back into your life.
- A rested body has more resilience for healing and recovery. If you’ve ever had surgery, you know that one of the first instructions you’ll get for the recovery period is to get plenty of rest. But you shouldn’t just wait until you need to recover from something like a surgery to get rest – you should get sufficient rest all the time so that when your body needs to heal or recover, it has more resources to draw from.
- Rest improves your memory. According to a study done by the National Sleep Foundation, we are better able to retain things in our memory if we are well rested. “When people have a chance to sleep, for example, after practicing a skill similar to piano scales, the centers of the brain that control speed and accuracy are more active than those regions in people who haven’t slept.” They surmise that, while we sleep, “memories and skills are shifted to more efficient and permanent brain regions, making for higher proficiency the next day.”
- Rest helps you live a more full-bodied life. Rest helps you be more fully present, more connected to your own body, more engaged in relationships that matter, and more alive and vibrant. (Learn more about this by joining my new program, A Full-Bodied Life.)
Friends, I hope that you are doing your best to get rest. I hope that you are prioritizing your own well-being enough to create boundaries that help you protect that rest. Because I believe you are worth it, just as I believe my dear work-wife Krista is worth it!