Last week we spoke about making time for what’s important. If you’re an achiever, you’re in love with the idea of growth and having an impact, but we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about rest. What does it really mean to rest? Is it a spa day, a massage, a deep sleep? What is it and why do we need it so badly? Take a deep breath in and sigh it out. You’re in good hands. We’ll talk about rest, how to get it even when it feels impossible, and what to do when you’re not getting it.
This past week we had a tropical storm come through our town and cut off our power for 6 days. Many of us can’t imagine being without power for a few hours let alone 6 days. We certainly weren’t expecting it to have that big of an impact so it was in the middle of a conference call that suddenly the power went out. Internet went out. Video calls were completed over the phone and then off I went to buy a portable power station and battery chargers for our phones and devices. Between figuring out how we were going to manage our fridge, making or finding our next meal, checking in on our elderly neighbors, managing kids and figuring out how to keep working, it was a lot of energy expended. I recalled laying in bed one night thinking, “wow, I feel so spent today”. My brain was buzzing with all the things that had to be figured out, even if we didn’t know when we would get power back. It got me thinking about rest, not just sleep rest, but mental rest.
When was the last time you had a mental break? A true unwind? Even when we are not working, we’re tending to some other aspect of our lives and it can feel like another to-do on the list. Whether it’s picking up the kids, figuring out what the plan is for the next day or making your meals, life can sometimes feel like a never ending cycle of doing, doing, doing. Some days are better than others in terms of breaks, but you don’t ever feel like you’re the one in control. You’re just subject to the demands of others, your circumstances, and your fear of failing. This doesn’t seem like a healthy combination, does it? I realized a few things about rest that I wanted to share. Things I remember that I found helpful when I was in the early newborn stages, when I was working crazy hours, and when I’m in crisis mode – managing yet another uncertain and unexpected event.
What Do I Need?
The first thing I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed and exhausted is ask myself, “what do I need?” When I was a mom, navigating the mental, physical exhaustion – what I answered that question with was sleep, laughter, good food, and help. When I was working crazy hours, I would answer that question with “rest – sleep”. When I am in crisis mode, I would answer that question with “stillness – time alone”. I needed time to listen to my intuition, to clear all the clutter and hear the right next step. I listen to good music, I laugh, I talk to people and I ask myself what do I need? Not just what do I need like the superficial answer, but what do i really need? If I’m feeling overwhelmed, why is it? If I feel like I can’t stop, why can’t I? If I feel like it’s all on me, is it really?
Asking for help
When you’ve been doing more than your fair share of work for your entire life, you’ll find it hard to ask for help. From one people-pleaser to another, I can tell you that it’s been one of the most challenging things to do. Why? When you ask for help, you often think it’s admitting a sign of weakness, a chink in your chain of armor, a proclamation that you’re not good enough. What I’ve seen time and time again, that true courage comes when you’re not certain and when you are afraid but you do it anyway. When that terrible fight keeps going on and you don’t know how to stop the insanity, ask for help. Ask for it from your higher power, the person in front of you, or your inner, and best self. When you’re swamped and feel like you’re constantly just keeping your head above water at work, ask for help. When your baby just won’t go to sleep or stop crying, take a breath and ask for help. It doesn’t matter if no one is there in front of you, the silent action of you saying you’re not sure but you’re willing to figure it out is enough.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re not doing any of this thing called life alone. Its a partnership with the divine, with source energy, with the world around you. When you break from that is when you get tired. When you realize that all of this is part of an energetic dance, you can ask yourself, what am I tuning into? Am I turning into a frequency of fear that’s not mine to feel? Am I tuning into a frequency of peace that is always available? When you tune into a frequency of peace, love, and joy you’ll find it no matter where you are. Even when you’re going from task to task, from to-do to to-do, you’ll understand the deeper purpose, your intention and you’ll be able to breathe new life into that next moment. Life that wasn’t there before. Life that came from an energy you created, not expended.
There’s an energetic pattern of ours that we don’t realize is always at play. We decide what we want to hold onto and what we want to let go of energetically. Whenever I work with people who are overwhelmed, one of the biggest feelings people achieve is a sense of release. Why release? Because they are holding on to something that’s not serving them. It’s what causes stress, disease, and a sense of frustration with life. We often hold onto pain that’s not ours, fear that’s from our family, a story from our past. When you rest, it means that you’re coming to a sense of deep inner peace. A deep acceptance of what is happening around you. A deep acceptance of what is happening for you. A deep acceptance of what is happening inside your mind. We judge ourselves for our negative thoughts, fears, reactions when the first thing we can do to let go is to just observe the thoughts. It’s not easy to decide not to play into the old habits of fear, self-criticism and self-attack, but it’s necessary for us to be able to calm our nervous system.
Many times, when you feel energetically charged it’s as if you’re a piece of crackling, live wire. What does live wire do? It can kill people! When you’re around people who are charged, they seem a little dangerous and you want to give them space. When you’re around a dead, uncharged wire you’re also not feeling anything at all and people who have low energy can seem like they’re not present. This idea of understanding ourselves as energetic beings is why you need to know how to charge and discharge yourself. Instead of thinking that rest is just about sleep or doing nothing, I want you to think about rest as energy management.
How are you charging your energetic stores? How are you discharging your energetic stores? For someone who has high energy, you need to move your body, ground yourself in nature, work, or talk. These are all discharging activities. If you’re a lower energy person, you’ll need to charge your energetic stores more than discharge. Charging may look like quiet time, sleep, watching a movie or a lone walk. When you’ve moved into low energy states you’ll need to know how to charge yourself up. When you’re in a super-high energy state, you’ll need to know how to discharge yourself. Stuck energy serves no purpose. It’s why we feel like we’re just doing and not really making a difference. We don’t have anywhere for our energy to go.
Finally, the first step of resting is always being self aware. It starts with you getting out of the situation you’re in long enough to realize that changing anything meaningful in your life will start from within. You’re not looking for a band aid, you’re looking for a methodology for self-soothing. You want to know when crisis hits, when overwhelm strikes, when things just seem to go out of control, how to self-regulate. How to create a pattern of behavior, and a state of being that doesn’t swing into patterns of overworking, of temper and of debilitating anxiety.
It’s in these moments that our practices are put to the test. It’s in these moments that the Universe is asking you to lean on a power outside of yourself. Of seeing yourself as connected to a community, to a divine wisdom, and a superconscious way of interacting with the world.
It’s when we have our breakdowns that we may find our greatest breakthroughs. If you’re in a breakdown right now, or on the cusp of one, know that you can ask yourself what you need, ask for help, and let it go.