Imagine your perfect rest. What kind of rest is it? How do you feel now, just thinking about that perfect rest?
Resting can be peaceful, beautiful, invigorating, inspiring and refreshing. It can give you time to reflect on the things that are important to you. It can give you an insight, a fresh perspective or a creative lightning bolt.
But if you notice that the need for a rest comes more from the need to get away from something, or from a desperate need for recuperation or survival, rather than the inherent enjoyment in taking a break and standing back and admiring your work, then ask yourself “Why do I need a rest?”
Is it because you’re so engrossed in what you’re involved in that you can’t tear yourself away from it? Do an ecology check… Am I diverting so much of my energy and attention to the thing that I love doing that other parts of my own system (and therefore a part of me) are being neglected? Could this be my mind and body’s way of signalling to me that I need to stop and take a look around me and enjoy the panoramic view?
Is it because what you’re doing is so arduous and unenjoyable that the need for a rest comes around all too quickly? Perhaps you are not stimulated enough. Perhaps what you’re doing isn’t meeting your needs. If you’re constantly thinking about and planning your next rest, consider the possibility that this could be taking its toll on your physical and mental health. What will it cost you in the future if you continue to take short rests which merely give you enough recovery to crack back on with the very thing that is grinding you down?
Do you need a rest because of something unexpected or unavoidable? Perhaps you have a family member who needs constant care or a baby or young children that need your constant attention. What are ALL of your options? What support can you get? What pressures can you remove?
So what instead of a rest?
If you’ve ever worked out in the gym, you may yourself, or you may have noticed other people alternating weights. First you do all the reps for a biceps exercise. Then all the reps for a triceps exercise. Back to biceps. Back to triceps. And so on. This is because whilst you are exercising one set of muscles you are resting the other. And all the while, you are continually working and getting fitter. You are constantly preparing your body to become stronger, healthier and more capable to deal with whatever it needs to, even though the critical components are getting all the rest they need.
If you walk a certain route across a cornfield over and over again, a path is created and eventually once the corn is well trodden, the route becomes easy to travel. It becomes the path of least resistance. So you then begin to automatically take that route without thinking and without considering other options. Your thoughts work in exactly the same way. If you think in the same pattern over and over again, that thought pattern becomes ingrained like a track in a corn field. If however, you decide to take a completely new and fresh route through the field, which may take some extra effort in the first place, you will get a fresh perspective and start to notice brand new views, sounds and experiences that you had never really paid attention to. Every time you take a new route through the cornfield, you are learning, growing, getting mentally fitter and most importantly furnishing yourself with more options and choices, which will make you more knowledgeable and capable in the long run. Not just capable at your job, or reacting to challenges that arise in life, but capable of aligning your values with your life path and achieving your potential for fulfilment.
You can get the all the ‘mind- fitness’ benefits of the new cornfield vistas by changing a habit, a thought pattern, your career, your environment or making new friends and acquaintances.
So the next time you need a rest, check with yourself “Is it a rest I need?... Or a change?!”