the idea of rest

What is rest?

I can clock 9-10 hours of sleep on some nights after a mentally draining day, but those hours may not translate into feeling rested in the morning. Sleep is the only time when I feel justified not ‘doing’ anything - it’s just a blank, unless I remember my vivid dreams. In my usual waking hours, I feel the need to be doing something, listening to something, reading something, fiddling with something, just getting something done. But maybe more hours sleeping doesn’t necessarily mean more rest.

What’s a restful state then? Getting into the flow with activities that I enjoy? I don’t know. Still figuring out how to rest and do nothing.

In the state of burnout when my mind and body shut down on me and protested against doing anything, it was signalling that it needed rest. Lots of it. In the first few days, I resisted. I was frustrated at myself, feeling upset that I was dysfunctional. Feeling even more guilt and disappointment about the fact that I needed SO MUCH rest. (It’s amusing how I’m speaking of my mind, body, and self as separate beings.) But through that experience, I learned that it’s so much better to start listening to my body and its needs before it got out of hand. I’m slowly learning to understand my needs and seek out healthy ways to nourish myself with it.

It’s difficult to pin point what was the turning point from having zero willpower to do anything, to feeling more alive again. After weeks of finding little pleasure in any activity, I found myself finding some muted pleasures in learning a new thing - learning to digitally draw on my new iPad Air. Perhaps that’s an active state of rest? Going with the flow of what feels right and interesting.

I guess something I’m trying to internalise is: I don’t need to be productive all the time. It’s just not sustainable. I follow too many people online that talk about ‘productivity 101’. They seem to do so much in their lives, designing systems on Notion or other productivity tools to keep themselves accountable and motivated etc. But these are just slices of their lives right? It’s the niche they are selling on Youtube, or Twitter. I need to find what is sustainable for myself.

Tiny steps. Let it snowball.

For now, I’m super grateful for my brain letting me do things and actually enjoying them. Thank you, slightly-more-normal-levels-of-serotonin.

This year, I’m not setting personal goals. Just letting myself be, and be on a journey to keep choosing love.

And sometimes, love looks like giving myself a good break without the guilt.

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