Why Rest is Overrated
A massage, an hour with a good book, getting out of the office when you promised yourself you would.
Time with your partner, your family, your friends.
Time with your thoughts (if that’s not too scary!)
How often do you take the time to do any of these things? I’m guessing – not as much as you’d like to, and probably not enough.
If you’re like many people out there, this can mean you end up spending your days running around like a headless chicken, always busy busy busy, but not really heading in any particular direction.
At the end of the day you fall exhausted into bed, and wonder why you can’t sleep, or why it is that you never have the energy to introduce anything new into your life.
Sooner or later, something snaps. Either you become sick for a period of weeks, or you become completely unmotivated to do anything that you’re not getting paid for. Or both.
‘I need to rest’, you say, skipping training sessions, social events, trying new hobbies. Skipping life.
Maybe you take some time off.
Invariably, this is not a good thing. With each day that passes, you become more self-indulgent, and less likely to accomplish even the smallest task. After about a week at home, it becomes unthinkable to even get dressed in the morning, let alone make the bed/ shop for groceries/ get the mail.
The rot sets in.
I once took a few ‘nothing’ days off from work. A chance to recover from the early mornings and work on all my ideas.
By mid-morning of the first day I had turned into the most unproductive person on the face of the earth. I figured I had the whole day ahead, so why do anything now. This attitude pretty much carried me through until I had to go back to work again.
‘I need a break’, I said to myself. ‘I’ll feel better after a few days doing nothing’.
I was wrong.
If you’ve ever gone down this path – a few days of ‘rest’, or even the habit of continual ‘rest’ on the weekend or after work, then you’ll agree that not only do you become lazier with each passing day, but you also feel really bad about yourself.
Your confidence drops as you tell yourself you’re not capable of doing anything (mainly because you don’t even try), and you stop believing in your ability to achieve even the smallest task (because you keep breaking commitments to yourself).
How do you spend your free time at the moment? Are you in the habit of doing nothing except eat in the evenings? And often not even going to the trouble of preparing a ‘real’ dinner? Of spending each weekend ‘relaxing’ by avoiding activity or even social interaction? Of feeling sorry for yourself for how hard you work? Of considering learning new skills, trying new hobbies, making new friends, but invariably pushing the idea away because you don’t want to tire yourself out?
Perhaps you’ve got a great business idea on the shelf – one that you never have time to make a go of because you need your rest time. Maybe you’ve let a close friendship drift away because ‘rest-time’ is more important.
Let me ask you something.
How’s your energy? Your motivation? Your self-belief ?
And when you do have something that you absolutely must get done, how efficient are you at finishing the job?
Rest is overrated.
Not relaxation. Relaxation is a positive pastime that helps you to rejuvenate your body and your mind. A massage, time with a friend, a hobby. Even lying on the couch watching mindless TV.
The difference is that relaxation is something you actively choose to do to refresh yourself.
What it isn’t, is allowing the hours or days to pass by while you break every promise you’ve made to yourself or postpone every commitment you’ve made to others.
Not only does this not refresh you, it actually tires you out even more. You lose passion, motivation and interest in life. You become drained and listless. Slower.
Boring. To yourself and to others.
Rest is overrated.
Let’s consider a new plan – finding energy through productivity.
For me, this began with writing. I’ve always loved to write, always been good at it, and always felt that it could eventually be something that contributes to me making a living.
As soon as I made a commitment to myself to begin writing every, I noticed something incredible. Starting each day with even 5 or 10 minutes of ‘journalling’ gave me ENERGY.
All of a sudden, I was more productive, more enthusiastic through the remainder of the day. When I added in article or copywriting on top of my journaling, I felt unstoppable.
Bit by bit, I created a new pattern. Rest time equalled writing time. Even for just a few minutes. I’d figured out that this was an energy source for me. I noticed that the more consistently I followed my urge to write, the more my energy and motivation carried over into the rest of my life.
I actually started crossing things off my list. Organising my home, my business. My life. I even found time for a few new hobbies. Joined a public speaking group, started playing the piano again. I spent at least one evening each week with my parents.
And the amazing thing – I still have time left over to do nothing. I’ve become one of those people who get things done. I’m busier than ever. Productively busy though, not headless chook busy.
And how do I feel? Alive, energised, enthusiastic. Driven.
The rot has gone – and it’s not coming back.
This week, I challenge you to break the rest pattern. What is something you’ve always wanted to do? Learn a new skill, try a hobby, catch up with an old friend? Maybe even spring clean your home. Next time you have some free time, I want you to commit to doing something before you rest.
Why not make it a habit? Time for you no longer means time to indulge in rest. Instead, find your energy and renew your passion for life – before you completely forget what living should feel like.
Life is now. Press play.
Copyright Katrina Eden, August 2007.