As you may have noticed, I took a little break from Baron Life Coaching, at least on the public front. I’ve been working on some fun things in the background (info to come soon!), but the last couple months have really been about putting self-care first.
Between food poisoning and catching that awful cold going around, I spent a lot of time just resting my ass off. Some people might hate that kind of thing, but me? I’d be a professional ass-rester if I could. I just love lounging on the couch, reading great books, watching great shows, and napping whenever I want.
It’s not that I don’t like accomplishing stuff. I’ve been known to get deep in the crossing-stuff-off-my-to-do-list flow (okay, maybe “frenzy” is a better word…), ending the day slam- dunking that crushed-up list into the just-emptied trash can, and feeling happy, productive, and proud of all I got done.
But resting makes me feel those awesome feelings, too. Why? Because I know I need it. If I continually try to push through and keep going, I make silly mistakes, I forget stuff, and it’s guaranteed that at some point I’ll crash and burn. Either I’ll be so exhausted from it all I won’t even have the energy to pick up my remote (the horror!) or I’ll get sick —anything from headaches to full-out germ invasions. At that point, I’m useless except as a warm lap for my dog to curl up in.
I’ve gotten really good at checking in with myself, and I make self-care a priority. I do what I can to make it happen, blocking off my schedule if I need a more significant chunk of time. I can tell now when I need to take a break and, conversely, when my body’s like, “Yup, that’s enough resting. Now go do stuff!” I’ve also learned to let go of any guilt around resting, because I know it’s exactly what I need in order to ultimately achieve my goals.
(By the way, it’s important to point out here that there’s a difference between truly resting and sitting on my butt as a way to avoid doing things. The first makes my body and brain feel relaxed, the second makes me feel tense and antsy. These days, the difference is pretty obvious to me, but it took a lot of practice checking in with myself to be able to notice the difference so clearly.)
I Don’t Get It. How Can Resting Make You More Productive?
Because when I take the time to rest, it means that when I am doing things, I’m not tired. I’m more focused, I work more efficiently, I make fewer mistakes, and I get in the flow of whatever I’m doing a hell of a lot easier than when I push through my tiredness to get stuff done.
If you need an example, just look at this blog post. I felt compelled to share something about self-care, so I tried writing it when I was almost-but-not-quite recovered from being sick. I sat down to work on it a few different times, spent hours writing, and never felt like it got anywhere close to what I wanted to say.
So I waited a few weeks, I rested more, and then I tried again. This time, my writing flowed, it took just a fraction of the time, and I had way more fun working on it, too.
How to Rest
As a devoted napper, I highly recommend sleeping. But I know that’s not for everyone, and I also know there’s not always time for that. In reality, work, family, and life in general can get hectic and make finding even minimal chunks of down time tricky.
Just try getting in whatever you can whenever you can. For example, today I rested while I was waiting for my turn at the deli counter. No, I didn’t curl up in the cart (although the idea was tempting). I was feeling scrambled as I ran errands, so I just put my phone down, took a couple deep breaths, thought, “I’m resting for my scattered brain,” and I cleared my mind as best as I could. (Ideally you want to do this for a minimum of 15 seconds.) This is called intentional resting, and you can replace “scattered brain” with whatever’s bugging you at the moment. It definitely helped me focus better, and I even remembered something I’d forgotten to put on my list (as opposed to my usual hand-to-the-forehead moment of realization as I unpack my bags at home).
There’s no wrong way to rest; it can be anything that makes you feel relaxed. Ideally, you want to rest until something inside you says, “Okay, I’m done resting now,” but even taking little moments here and there can help. Try having a great conversation with a favorite person, hugging someone you love, sitting in your car at break time and letting your favorite music wash over you, or just taking a few deep breaths and relaxing into your chair while waiting for a meeting to start.
Just lean back, know you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, let everything else go, and enjoy.
But What If People Think That I’m Just Being Anti-Social?
My basic answer to this one is: I respectfully don’t care what they think. I do what I need to do for myself so that I can live a richer life, which includes being present for my clients, my family, and my friends. It’s like what flight attendants say before every flight: always put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.
In our society, there’s a sense that you’re being self-centered, lazy, and not doing your part if you’re not always on the go and being productive. But if you’re so tired or overwhelmed that you can’t enjoy what’s going on in the moment, what kind of life is that really? After all, I’m guessing you don’t want to be this guy: Man on Cusp of Having Fun Suddenly Remembers Every Single One of His Responsibilities.
In this day and age, resting is a form of rebellion. So go ahead—rebel! Get your rest on first, then get to kicking your to-do list's butt, and watch as you accomplish everything from cleaning your house to building better relationships to making your wildest dreams come true.
You might even get caught up on your favorite shows in the process, and if that’s not motivation to rest, well, I really don’t know what is.
Katie Baron: life coach, freelance writer, animal and nature lover, musician, relentless optimist