Sometimes it feels like the world is moving so fast. In an information age, there is a wealth of distractions. Layer on top of that the expectations of others and the ones we have for ourselves. Rest is so hard in a driven world.
Why rest is so hard in a driven world
When was the last time you rested? I mean truly rested. It’s not as easy or simple as it sounds in a world that’s constantly moving. There are challenges we face when trying to rest.
Distractions & technology
How often do you have conversations with people that are disrupted by a phone or watch buzzing or beeping?
What about when you’re alone and need a break. Do you default to your phone? Many people do. Phones are a constant source of entertainment and distraction.
Just look in a lobby, waiting room, or any place where people have to wait and it’s clear that phones are the distraction of choice. Years ago in those moments, people would simply sit and be still or we would interact with others around them. That doesn’t happen much anymore.
Rest is so hard in a driven world because it isn’t common anymore. Our devices serve as distractions from moments that previously could have been restful.
People struggle to even enjoy a meal in a restaurant without feeling the need to photograph it and document it for social media.
We have information coming at us all the time from various sources and it’s not so easy to shut it off.
Unless you’re very disciplined, it’s tough to not have your phone be a distraction in your life. It’s not that technology as a whole is bad, but smartphone addiction has consequences. It’s made it harder to take a break and rest.
Expectations & boundaries
Rest is difficult when your phone is continually giving you input. It’s a constant running to-do list with messages and emails to respond to.
We also have expectations from others and self-imposed that we must reply to everything immediately. Phones can reinforce feelings of self-importance. You may feel valuable and needed causing you to respond right away.
But being on our phones all the time doesn’t actually make you more important or better. It keeps you disconnected from the life that is happening around you.
We’ve come to prioritize the phone over the people in the same room.
It’s ironic that we expect our friends or family members to respond to our texts immediately and yet we are simultaneously annoyed when we’re with them and they’re checking their phones. Let’s have our cake and eat it too.
What would it look like if we instead imposed healthy boundaries? Let’s encourage each other to not be chained to our phones. Be the first one to set the example.
Choose rest instead. Create space to live your life in the here and now. Prioritize people and don’t encourage distractions.
Let’s also agree to stop trying to guilt people into doing things and instead, applaud people for saying no and having boundaries.
Productivity & identity
Rest is so hard in a driven world because we measure our worth in outcomes. We equate doing more with being worth more.
Is how much you got done today directly related to how you feel about yourself at the end of the day? How to do you feel about the day and about yourself when you didn’t get as many boxes checked off as you’d hoped?
Productivity equals success. Lack of productivity equals failure. How can one rest when it feels like a sign of weakness or failure?
There are always going to be more things to do. And there will always be things that go undone because it is literally impossible to do it all.
Shouldn’t I just drink more coffee? Push harder? Read another book that will surely tell me the magic equation? Yep, I’m certain getting up at 5am will fix it.
But does that end with you feeling healthy, balanced, and accomplished? Often even when we are productive because of the seemingly endless amount of things to do, we still don’t feel accomplished. It’s never enough.
People pleasers want to say yes to all the things. They want people to like them and they want to be helpful. But at what cost?
It’s so easy for priorities to get out of whack as you try to please all the people and do all the things, but you end up running on empty trying to fulfill your commitments.
For the driven types (enneagram 3’s, I’m talking to you), rest can feel like laziness. The desire to achieve can make rest feel counterintuitive to your goals. You are likely the people who most need rest because it doesn’t come naturally for you.
Moms are notorious for spending inordinate amounts of time doing things for other people. Rest feels like a foreign concept. They continue to pour out so much that they end up feeling inadequate, burned out, and depressed. In these seasons, we need to redefine what productivity is.
Rest is so hard in a driven world that expects more of us that we have to give. We push and we strive and at the end of the day, we feel empty. No matter how much we accomplish, it never feels like enough. We intertwine our identity with our outcomes to our own detriment.
Values & comparison
Rest is so hard in a driven world that values production more than choosing to slow down. Interestingly, these two things are connected.
When you’re more rested, you’re more productive. When you try to keep going and you’re exhausted, the outcomes aren’t good. And still, we try to keep doing more and pushing more.
Rest is often perceived as a sign of weakness. Culturally hustling is praised far more than resting. You’ll see all kinds of sayings promoting working hard, being the boss, grinding and hustling but you don’t see too many saying ‘take a nap, you’ll accomplish more’. Maybe I should design some shirts.
It’s tough when you value something that the culture doesn’t. Living simply in a consumer culture has the same tension. It takes more work and intention when your values are against the grain.
It’s more challenging to make choices in alignment with rest when you see all the fun things your friends are doing. Social media is so kind to inform us of everything we are missing out on. This is how FOMO (fear of missing out) became a thing.
If you value rest, and I would argue we all should, choose instead to embrace JOMO (joy of missing out). Embrace staying home and reading a book. Enjoy not getting dressed up and going out. Choose to be happy with fulfilling your needs and don’t compare to what other people are doing.
Defining rest & why we need it
First, let’s define what rest is (and what it’s not). Certain activities may be restful to one person, but not to another. Rest can look like taking a walk. Rest can be reading a book. Taking a nap clearly is rest.
Rest is not sitting on your coach on your phone. You may feel like that is downtime, but it isn’t true rest. Your mind isn’t resting as you take in the words and images on the screen.
You know you best so you can decide what activities or practices help you to feel relaxed and refreshed.
Why need to make rest a priority because if we don’t, we will suffer consequences to our health. Our bodies were designed to need adequate rest.
How to rest well
Resting doesn’t happen by default. It takes intention and effort. Rest is easier for some people than for others. If you have a type A personality, taking breaks feels more challenging, but it’s necessary. Let’s explore some ways to rest.
In a world where we can feel constantly on, it’s important to take some time off. That could be a day here and there, weekends, and vacations. Try to observe at least one day of rest in your week.
Time off means you aren’t constantly checking in with work. If you have a work from home job, it will take additional effort to keep your attention off of the work you could be doing.
Take a vacation where you don’t take work with you. Be present and enjoy the place and people you are with. Unplug and have fun.
This may seem obvious, but resting sometimes means sleeping. Many people do not get the recommended amounts of sleep. Whether that’s due to Netflix binges, Instagram scrolling, or simply enjoying a quiet house you still need to make sure you get your rest.
Have your bedroom set up for sleeping success. Keep screens out of the bedroom and create a space that helps you feel relaxed. Declutter those nightstands and dressers and get the rest your body needs.
Take naps when you can if you’re feeling tired and need a break. Another cup of coffee isn’t always the best for your body.
Digital breaks & boundaries
Decide on some technology boundaries in your home. Are they only permitted at certain times during the day or on certain days? You get to decide what is appropriate for your family and home.
I suggest keeping meal times phone free and allow that space to connect with the people in your home.
Include restful practices or activities
There are a lot of great and easy ways to slow down. Connect with people and with nature. Be more present in your life and get more rest when you include life-giving practices and activities into your day.
Incorporate true self-care into your schedule
We’ve started conversations about self-care but often people mean getting your haircut or going to get a massage. They become more things to do, rather than to rest and simply be.
Consider what true self-care would look like in your life. What does ideal downtime look like for you? Choose healthy habits that will help you feel rested and energized.
Last year when my daughter was in kindergarten, every day they had designated quiet time. Each day the teacher would choose which student was the stillest and most quiet during that time. They were declared The Best Rester that day.
May we all seek the title of Best Rester in our every day lives.
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