As a society, we talk a lot about self-care but rarely unpack what it means or looks like. One of the best forms of self-care you can practice is giving yourself permission to rest. Unfortunately, we often get caught up in the "hustle" mentality and don't take time to notice how tired we are. Busyness has become something we brag about, prioritizing our full calendars over a full night of sleep. If you are feeling overworked, overtired, or overwhelmed, this post is for you. Rest isn't just about getting a full night of sleep, although that can dramatically help your mental health. It is about taking time to do things that you enjoy or taking a break from things you don't. In this post, we're going to introduce three kinds of rest and give some helpful tips on how to implement them into your life. Practicing rest might feel uncomfortable at first if you don't regularly engage in it, but we promise that you will see so many benefits if you stick with it.
When you think of rest, physical rest is probably the first thing that comes to mind. While there are many forms of physical rest, getting good sleep is a type of rest that we desperately need but are not getting.
When you don't sleep well or aren't getting many hours of sleep, you are wholly impacted mentally, emotionally, physically, etc.
You can experience brain fog, lack focus or motivation, become more sensitive or irritable, and physically, your body can lag, not being able to operate at its highest capacity. We understand that there are seasons in life where getting a full night of sleep is simply not an option, for example, if you have a newborn. This is where the importance of other kinds of rest will be highly beneficial to your mental and emotional state.
For those of you that can get a full night of rest but are still struggling in this area, consider your nighttime routine and see if there are any changes you could make to improve your quality of sleep.
Here are three simple things that could change the quality of rest you are getting:
Stay off your phone once you're in bed. If you don't feel tired when you lay down, read a book before closing your eyes.
Limit the amount of caffeine you drink throughout the day. Try drinking a calming, caffeine-free tea before bed.
Before going to sleep, take a few minutes to write down anything lingering in your mind from the day. Think "brain dump" will help eliminate racing thoughts as you try to go to sleep.
For some, mental rest can be one of the biggest challenges because the thought of getting your brain to "turn off" may feel practically impossible. Feeling like your brain doesn't take a break can be overwhelming and exhausting. Try any activity that will engage the creative part of your brain.
Creativity could be painting, taking a pottery class, working on a puzzle, etc.
The goal in these activities is not perfection.
Instead, by working with your hands, creating something from nothing, you will give your brain something different to focus on other than to-do lists, worse case scenarios, or past conversations.
Emotional rest can look very different for every person. The best way to figure out what kind of emotional rest you need is by thinking about the expectations, events, or people in your life that leave you feeling emotionally drained. For example, you may be walking with someone through a tough season of life. Support is essential in a relationship, AND it is important to take inventory of how other's stories are impacting you. Do you find yourself stuck in a negative headspace repeatedly after interacting with someone? If so, take a moment to think through expectations you have put on yourself regarding your care for them.
Is your end goal to be their support or their savior?
Too often, we try to be everybody's everything and forget we have limits and burn out.
The best way to support those you love is by taking care of yourself as well. Limit the length or frequency of meetings if you have to or set boundaries over topics that may be too triggering for you. Ask that they have a support system and not solely rely on you. In addition, take time to express your expectations to them so that you are both clear on how your support can look. Talking about expectations or setting boundaries may seem intimidating out of fear that your boundaries might upset them.
Still, it is important to remember that you are not responsible for people's emotional reactions to your boundaries.
The ultimate form of self-care is simply taking the time to think about yourself too.
We unpacked a lot in this blog. Take some time to think through what physical, mental, and emotional rest looks like in your life right now. What changes do you need to make to prioritize rest? What practices are you excited to implement, and what things make you feel a little nervous? In our next blog post, we will discuss two more types of rest, social and creative.
Until then, get some sleep, try something creative and set some boundaries.