As I sit back and reflect on the month of May-the month of maniacal weather here in MN- and of Mother's Day and Memorial Day, Kids, teacher and parents trying to survive the flurry of AP testing, finals, prom, graduation, transitioning from dorm back to family life, play offs for sports teams etc., I came to the realization that I am tired. My family is tired. We sleep much less, reduce or eliminate workout time, eat on the run, and pack our schedules with all of the extras the season demands. As a result, we are running on fumes. Our emotions are close to the surface, we have little time to talk or listen, and we often react too quickly and too strongly to the situation at hand. Sometimes, our reaction doesn't even fit the situation! As a result, there is more stress and tension. We forget or fail to realize that we can only push so hard and that there are other options--tools-- to help us BEFORE we get to the breaking point.
"When you are tired, rest, don't quit." (Bronsky). I came across this quote and it has really had a huge impact on me and my driven, efficiency seeking personality. I am so thankful to have come across it now--at least I can use it in the second half of my life... I so wish I had known this when I was younger and needed permission to rest along the way instead of thinking that I could continue to push harder and see quality results. Instead of thriving, I was surviving.
May is mental health awareness month. By definition, (Webster's Dictionary) mental health is defined as: the absence of mental illness, feeling good about oneself and meeting the demands of daily life. It is about psychological and emotional well being. How can we affect our well being and the quality of our daily lives? Learn to rest! Knowing and recognizing when we need it, and giving ourselves the permission to make it a regular practice.
I can hear your response already: "Rest is a luxury," "who has time to rest?" My response: "everyone has time to rest, and "we need to agree on the definition of rest." Of course many of us would like to have a guaranteed day off each week, a lengthy vacation, long workouts or meditation times. This type of rest may not be possible in your life right now, but you might find time to: close your eyes and take 5 deep breaths; while noticing the space between each inhalation and exhalation. You might take a cat nap, unplug for a time, go for a walk, listen to your favorite music, meditate or pray, look out the window, stretch, read something for fun, make a list of what is going well...you get the idea. The time spent in these activities could be a few minutes. None of these require much in the way of resources, they can be done anywhere, and you might find them surprisingly beneficial. Try it!
Another significant factor, is giving yourself permission to take little rests along the way. Resting is not lazy, and it has been clinically proven to improve our ability to focus, and increase our productivity! It is beneficial to both our physical and mental health. Giving yourself regular permission to rest prevents you from the big build up that often ends at the breaking point. It is like we are creating little exit ramps along the way, so that we can pace ourselves, and stay focused and alert for the journey. We may even find that we notice more of the journey along the way and that the we manage unforeseen obstacles and road blocks with greater ease. Simply, we are less reactive and more patient.
I invite you to sit back for a few minutes--or go for a stroll -however you do your best thinking--and ask yourself where you might need some rest in your life, and how you choose to rest, today. I guarantee that you will experience immediate benefits from adding this into your life! And, if you are too busy to try something new, I understand. For now, maybe just start with putting the quote on your desk or mirror.....