December 23, 2020
I am tired, and so are most of my friends and colleagues. We all need some rest at the end of this challenging year. But I’m not suggesting that we just get more sleep — though that would be helpful. I’m talking about restorative rest. This is a type of rest that isn’t passive; rather, it is intentional, and oftentimes active.
It was more than a decade ago that “O, The Oprah Magazine” — an early advocate of self-care — implored readers to seek real relaxation, offering this advice from a researcher: “Shut down the laptop, turn off your BlackBerry, and silence your cell phone.” This sentiment still holds true: We need to disconnect from time to time, and perhaps even more now.
This year has been hard. I don’t mean to sound glib, but how do I even describe the grief, the life-altering events, and the new challenges that the pandemic, police brutality against Black and Brown people, and a fraught political season have brought us? It’s been an exhausting year for most Americans, even those of us privileged to have a stable job, financial resources, a support system and safety from violence.
So let’s discuss restorative rest, which requires making time that completely yours, and then protecting and prioritizing this valuable time.
Make Time for Restorative Rest
Restorative rest looks different for all of us. For me, it’s snuggling under a blanket on the couch with a new library book. For some of my colleagues and friends, the time is spent cooking a new recipe (so much bread on Instagram), playing a virtual game with friends, going for a walk or run, or practicing yoga. Just last week, a reporter I was working with made sure to end an interview on time so she could switch to her telehealth therapy appointment.
Even simple daily routines and behaviors can open up more moments of rest. One friend has stopped looking at his phone when he runs errands, including when he’s waiting in line at the grocery store. It’s an opportunity to observe the conversations around him and genuinely engage with the essential worker ringing up his purchase.
When we participate in this type of rest, our minds have a chance to relax, reflect and move away from our running list of things to do. It gives us space for creativity and refuels our kindness and grace toward one another and ourselves. We can feel less polarized and isolated when making these simple connections to those around us, nature, and our own mental and physical needs.
Going into the holiday season, I’m grateful to work at a company that gives us paid time off, making it easier to find time for restorative rest. I realize that making time for restorative rest is a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility for those of us who can, so we can in turn give our best back to our communities, our families and our work. It gives us the bandwidth to volunteer our time, contribute to charitable causes, and support clients that are raising awareness and pushing policy solutions for persistent societal issues.
Taking restorative rest isn’t selfish. It is an imperative, especially this year. Take care of yourself today, so you can take on the world tomorrow.
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