November 3, 2021
Resting and resetting. Two simple words that contain a lot of power. However, if you’re like me, finding the space to allow yourself to decompress, relax, reset, and downshift doesn’t come easy. I’ve been asking myself why this is. I often question myself on permitting the downtime, because I have so many other things I “should” be doing. Getting more work done I couldn’t get to, reading the four books on my nightstand, visiting friends and checking out the latest new restaurant, I mean the list can go on and on.
More often than not, I’m not permitting myself the opportunities to just be quiet and relax. The go, go, go our society prides itself on always wins, but then I wonder why I’m so tired, burnt out, overwhelmed, and scattered all the time. The question I pose to you, and myself is: “why?” What are the benefits of running full speed ahead at all times? What feelings come up when you’re debating to give yourself a break or do something? Why aren’t you permitting yourself this time to recuperate from your busy life? Take the opportunity to grab your journal and think through these questions. See what is coming up and what nuggets of information can help enlighten you on your ‘why.’ Allowing yourself rest and relaxation without guilt takes a little bit of practice. There is no shame if you are a little rusty at this. Furthermore, what downshifting means for you may look different from another person.Here are some tips on how to begin your journey to mindful rest and relaxation.
Find what relaxation means to you
Remember that relaxation is not about the activity, but the outcome of that activity. Pay attention to your hobbies, physical activities, self-care practices, and how you feel after doing them. If you feel stable and easy, then it may be something to add to your list as a way to reset..
Ask yourself what you hope to get out of your relaxation time each time you do it. Ask yourself questions such as…Do I need to step back from stressors at work or home? Do I need to feel refreshed and ready to be present in my life? Do I need to feel soothed and comforted? Once you determine what you need, you can choose the right activity and define the boundaries to put in place in order to make it happen.
Manage emotions and negative self-talk
If your mind isn’t on board with resting, it’s going to be more difficult to downshift. Find skills and tools that can help put you in a mindset to relax. Depending on the emotions – which can range from frustration, sadness, guilt, anxiety – try leveraging tools such as journaling, self-compassion exercises, meditation, reframing, and/or grounding exercises to help you move through them and put you at ease for downshifting.
Set clear expectations
We all put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform in every aspect of our lives, even when resting. Many times we have the notion that if we just relax, we will be magically restored from the stressors of life. Being realistic about resting is understanding that relaxation isn’t the absence of stress but creating moments when you are putting stressors on hold so you can take a break from what’s on your plate.
You deserve rest
Many of us use resting as a reward from accomplishing all our to-dos. Thinking that rest is something to be earned can end up making us feel we don’t deserve it if we don’t complete our tasks. Remember, our bodies and brains need downtime, and rest is a necessity. In fact, those who regularly take mindful rest breaks tend to also be higher achievers than those who allow themselves to burn out.
As we head into a season that supports going inward with its shorter light days and colder temperatures, challenge yourself and lean in to finding more moments during the week for resetting and relaxing.