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Rest cannot be history! | Parinita Ganesh

Rest cannot be history!

In a world that demands busyness, one has to consciously carve out the time to do things that bring them joy.

Resting is rarely a conscious choice for most of us. It is often associated with recuperating from an illness and maybe that’s why isn’t very popular. Why would you rest if you aren’t sick? For many, with long to-do lists, resting may seem like a criminal waste of precious time. This article though is going to urge the readers to challenge themselves off their usual ways and begin to see resting as important as food or sleep. The inspiration behind exploring ‘rest’ comes from a book called ‘Art of Rest’ by Psychologist, Claudia Hammond, where she talks about the importance and the various activities associated with rest, for people around the world.

But what is rest? And how is it different from sleep? Well, resting, as Ms. Hammond puts it, would be the activities that one does when they are awake, and which help them feel relaxed and calm. It could be doing absolutely nothing or engaging in a physical activity like running or going for a walk. Interestingly, a restful activity could induce sleep! It is also known to improve productivity, memory, focus, energy, physical health, wellbeing, etc. It could simply mean sitting back on one’s chair with their eyes shut for two minutes, during a busy workday.

But how many of us are willing to allow ourselves to take a breather? Sit down with a cup of chai or just spend some time listening to your favorite kind of music just because you like to? Today, with our lives dependent on devices and constantly being wired in, we miss out on opportunities to choose to include restful moments during our regular day. With notifications on our mobiles, ranging from work emails to a bunch of messages from friends on messaging applications, our minds are incessantly racing. Engaging with people, content, or our work even during non-work hours or non-working days has become a norm and these are times when you’d usually try to find restful moments.

We lived through the longest, most stringent lockdown that our country has seen due to the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. The lockdown may have been restful for some and extremely stressful for some. It may have been slightly restful for people spending 2-3 hours traveling to their place of work every day, but on the other hand, some people did the work of 4 people, at once. With no real work hours due to the work from home situation, the time set aside to rest was taken away. Lack of space and time to rest gave rise to physical and mental exhaustion. In addition to personal struggles, the news of rising cases, deaths, woes of the migrant workers added to mental health struggles. Living through this period made it even more difficult to find restful moments, even though we needed it the most.

What makes matters more complicated is that productivity has become the yardstick by which individuals are judged. Busyness is assumed to be directly proportional to an individual’s success. If that was really the case, then a woman taking care of a home or a farmer would be the most successful person. When seeming busy has become a “badge of honor” as quoted by Ms. Hammond, resting could make us feel guilty for “not doing enough.” At such times, it is important to remind ourselves that our to-do list will never end. One task is completed and another shows up. So, waiting to rest until you finish your to-do list might mean that you will never rest. There is evidence that shows that instead of rewarding ourselves with a break once our work is done, giving ourselves a break in between completing a task helps us concentrate better.

All of the above simply indicates that we need to take a break from the individual races we are running, even if it is for a few minutes a day, to slow down, relax, rest. The book revolves around the top 10 most popular ways of resting mindfulness, watching TV, daydreaming, having a bath, taking a walk, doing nothing much, listening to music, being on your own, spending time in nature, and at no. 1 was… reading.

But where does one start to consciously incorporate rest into their lives?

Giving yourself permission to rest is of utmost importance. The dishes will get done, the project will be completed, the messages will get a response but an opportunity to rest will no longer be ignored. We have for long idolized busyness and it’s time to reframe our thoughts to consider that resting is much more beneficial than it has been deemed to be. Believing that we deserve to rest would help us consciously schedule restful moments on a busy day and actually enjoy those moments.

There cannot be one way of resting. The list mentioned above may not fit your idea of resting. For e.g. being by oneself can be a welcome, restful experience if one is surrounded by people all the time or is a primary caregiver for multiple others. The same may not apply to a person looking for companionship, in fact, it could be a trigger. Hence, it would be important to find your own set of activities that help you feel rested. Ms. Hammond suggests that prescribing yourself 15 minutes of the most effective set of restful activities daily could improve your wellbeing. She allows herself to garden, her favorite restful activity.

FOMOFear of Missing Out, is a reality and it pushes us to continually engage, respond, consume and produce, at the speed of lightning. This feeling of being “on-call” at all times could be the reason for high burnout levels. But what would it mean to not respond to an email, comment, or message? Putting it off for a couple of hours may induce anxiety at first, but may prove to be beneficial in your endeavor to rest more.

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Parinita Ganesh

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