Permission To Rest

When I first started dealing with health issues, I found it really hard to give myself permission to rest even though I knew I really needed it. The stigma around taking time out and away from the productivity rat race is a strong current to get caught up in! 

[Image description: book opened to a page of poetry, with two pink fingers holding open the page, a green plant to the right and a white table underneath. The poetry book is Heart Talk by Cleo Wade, and is open to a poem called ‘a love note to my body’.]
[Image description: book opened to a page of poetry, with two pink fingers holding open the page, a green plant to the right and a white table underneath. The poetry book is Heart Talk by Cleo Wade, and is open to a poem called ‘a love note to my body’.]

I’ve spoken before about my doctor who said that I could rest and have a nap every day in this post called Rest Before You Need To. I needed permission to rest and it changed so much for my well being and general health in a positive way. Mentally, it freed up some internal pressure that we have to do everything first before we allow ourselves to prioritise our own needs. This seems to be the case even more so for women, who are usually also the main caregivers and have the majority of the mental load to take care of. 

I still struggle with giving myself permission to rest just about every day, especially when there is a long list of things to do, usually because I am constantly feeling like I need to catch up. 

Our society is so driven by doing and productivity that we have forgotten what it feels like to just be and not have something to show for the time we’ve spent. There is so much stigma around stopping and resting as if it is a luxury, but it is actually the thing that gives us more energy and maximises our productivity and creativity. 

We cram every hour of the day with things that we think we need doing, or preparing for a future event or activity as though it is just the normal way we all operate now. I behaved like this for so long, it was exhausting and led to many burnouts, and eventually major chronic health issues. I might have been susceptible to health issues anyway, and living my life at such speed without rest was just a fast track to serious problems. 

Nowadays, I have to lie down at ‘half-time’ or about 8 hours of a 16 hour day, as my neck gets super painful, my head becomes unbearably heavy, and my eyes become strained so much that it will lead to intense facial pain and a migraine pain. It wrecks me for the next day or more too because I am usually still dealing with the pain from the previous day and then end up feeling drained from the extra pain load. Not to mention, I am more cranky and my concentration and cognition becomes very poor – so, no nap equals no productivity – the exact opposite of what anyone wants. 

A nap every afternoon may be too much rest or not the right type of rest for you in your circumstances. I may have a nap every afternoon but that doesn’t turn me into a superhuman machine afterwards that gets everything done in a short time frame! The ‘chronic fatigue and pain’ life can mean you never feel fully well rested, and even more tired than before – how mean is that?!

We need to stop the stigma that says we are only allowed to rest or slow down when we’re exhausted or if we have accomplished something. Rest is a vital part of the human experience and for our health and wellbeing, and is not a luxury that is only available to people who have earned it or ‘have time for it’.   

You are not lazy for taking the time you need to rest. That quality time allows you to recharge and restore your energy to be able to do what needs to be done, more effectively and efficiently and show up as the best version of yourself. 

Unfortunately if you don’t rest, there will come a time when your body will make you stop and the recovery will take time. I learnt this the hard way and still learn it again and again when I think I can push myself to do more and more each day, and the compounding effect flattens me out for weeks and my efforts take more time and end in poor results.  

It’s important that we get the right type of rest we need to feel restored. It may be solitude or alone time, or time away from responsibilities, or being somewhere that makes you feel safe, connected to art, nature, or a creative flow state. When we slow down and rest we usually find the answer or the creativity that we have been pushing ourselves to gather! 

So if you have been pushing yourself a little too hard lately (and I am writing this post as a reminder for myself as much as anyone), then it is time to set back, delegate what you can, and give yourself the rest that your mind and body requires. 

What is your favourite way to rest, restore and recharge? Leave a comment below and share your tips! 

Take it easy, Readers. I’ll leave the light on. 

[Image description: purple, green and teal succulent plants in a white creamy coloured pot in soft light.]
[Image description: purple, green and teal succulent plants in a white creamy coloured pot in soft light.]

If you or someone you know is affected and needs support, please contact the following organisations: 

Beyond Blue – Beyondblue.org.au 

Lifeline – https://www.lifeline.org.au/ 

SANE Australia – Sane.org 

Black Dog Institute – https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/ 

RUOK? – Ruok.org.au 

Headspace – Headspace.org.au 

Kids Helpline – https://kidshelpline.com.au/

MensLine Australia – https://mensline.org.au/ 


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