Sustainability Tip: What Does It Mean to Really, Truly Rest?

By Gillian Ramirez, Alliance Intern from UC San Diego

Rest is a fundamental aspect of our existence, literally replenishing us and allowing us to be our most true selves. In a culture of toxic productivity, the lines between work and self-care are blurred. Understanding what rest really is and how we can care for ourselves best is critical, according to SELFDr. Asp, a professor in Caring Science at Mälardalen University in Sweden, explains, “the essence of rest is characterized by a sense of confidence and trust in one’s own inviolable human dignity and in being loved.”

Being honest with yourself and being okay with asking for help is the underlying issue many struggle with when trying to truly rest. Being forced to stop what you are doing and honor your feelings can be hard and uncomfortable. Expressing your needs to others can be even harder to do. Ultimately, acknowledging that rest is necessary for our well-being and learning how to unplug from the stressors of life will benefit us in the long run.

Rest looks different to everyone, but the general feeling of well-rested is an overall relaxed, calm sensation. One where your mind is not still running, feeling a sense of dread or need to keep working. We need to be conscious that our mind and body are connected, each impacting one another.

Being in tune with our bodies is crucial in learning how to best rest. Checking in and assessing our health can help us notice when our bodies are stressed. In addition, digital watches can help track physiological data like heart rate and sleep, both indicators of well-being. These physiological and emotional signals can help you better understand what your body needs.

Understanding societal expectations or taught beliefs is important to reframing our value of rest. LCSW Karen Conlon explains, “If you grew up in an environment where rest was seen as something for lazy people, or if it was seen as something that was not productive, then the thought of rest can trigger anxiety.”

In our capitalistic society, rest is undervalued and not prioritized, conveying the idea to the working class that we do not need it to function properly. When rest seems impractical to fit into your packed schedule, consider at least creating some time between tasks instead of packing them all in back-to-back.

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