Permission to Rest

November 19, 2023

Mariana Reis (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer

Do you ever find yourself grappling with guilt when you pause for a moment? In today’s  demanding world, it can be challenging to embrace rest. There’s a constant pressure to be “productive,” and even our downtime is expected to be “active rest,” a term that suggests we should accomplish something, however small, even outside our work hours. But is this a genuine form of rest, or a response to societal expectations? Moreover, the relentless competition, especially in the age of social media, can make it difficult to disconnect. The fear of falling behind in the race to produce content often hinders us from slowing down.

It’s essential to recognize that guilt about resting is more common than you might think. It can be a sign of conditions like anxiety or depression, that make it difficult to slow  down and take care of ourselves. In reality, rest is not a waste of time; it’s a vital component of  productivity and well-being.

However, putting this into practice is often easier said than done. When I attempt to relax, I find myself wrestling with an underlying feeling that I should be engaging in something more productive. My mind refuses to settle, and I’m not fully present in the moment. Even when I’m immersed in a  seemingly mindless activity, like watching cartoons with my three-year-old, I’m plagued by self-doubt. I wonder if I’m setting a poor example — what kind of parent simply watches cartoons? Am I indirectly endorsing laziness? Meanwhile, a mental checklist runs through my head: the dinner dishes that need cleaning, the laundry waiting to be folded and the expectation of maintaining an active presence on social media. It’s a relentless tug-of-war.

I want you to know that these feelings are entirely normal. Many of us share these doubts and struggles. Disconnecting from the demands of our busy lives is a greater challenge than we often anticipate. In this era of intense competition, instant gratification, and constant influx of information, simply allowing ourselves to “be” can be a monumental task. Even taking a few minutes to rest feels like a luxury. But it’s possible.

Whenever you catch yourself overwhelmed by thoughts of pending chores, remind yourself that this moment of tranquillity belongs to you, and it holds the power to increase your productivity and presence in all the tasks that lie ahead. Here’s what I personally do:

Scheduled Rest Time:  I set aside dedicated time to rest, typically just before picking up my son from daycare. It’s the golden moment between concluding my work as a nutritionist and embracing my roles as a mother and a wife, and I treasure at least 30 minutes for myself.

Disconnect from Digital Distractions:  I consciously disconnect from social media and emails during this time. Those messages can wait for my attention.

Mindful Internet Usage:  I also limit my aimless internet browsing. The more time we spend observing other people’s lives, the stronger the sense of guilt when we try to rest.

I hope these insights will help you to feel more at ease with the moments you take for yourself.  Remember, everyone needs a break. 

My name is Mariana and I am a holistic nutritionist. I love helping other immigrant mothers by cooking nutritious meals to support their postpartum recovery. As I walk the path of self-discovery and inner  reconnection, my hope is to continue forging meaningful connections and seeking opportunities to support and uplift others.

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