Self

Hustle Culture: Why You Need To Give Yourself Permission To Rest

Photo: DimaBerlin / shutterstock
woman in glasses working on laptop

By Laura Herndon

From the moment we are born, we have a lot of firsts. We learn to walk and talk (and if you’re like me, never learn to shush up), learn our alphabet, and so on.

Throughout life, we are constantly learning something new or relearning things that came so easily to us earlier in life, which can make us forget how to rest.

Rest can be a noun and a verb. Whether it’s a period of rest or the act of rest, are you certain you know how to do it?

We’re told we can do it all. There’s no rest for the wicked. Burning the midnight oil. Somewhere in our hustle culture, we began to associate rest with laziness.

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Years ago, it was a sign of wealth to bask in idleness. It was a status symbol that you were too rich to need to work.

Those days are long behind us, and in this century, burning the candle at both ends is a sure indicator that you are a dedicated employee, entrepreneur, or even both.

Vacation days? PTO? Hah! We scoff in the face of time off if we have it at all. Americans are unique in the world in our lack of time off compared to other Western nations.

Citizens of other countries revel in their time off and use it to their full advantage. With burnout still at an all-time high, rest seems like a faraway dream in our culture. Having acknowledged that, we need rest now, more than ever.

There are numerous benefits of rest, including a healthier immune system, lower blood pressure, better mood, lower risk of anxiety and depression, improved heart health, and even a reduction in chronic pain.

Which brings me back to the original question: Have you ever truly learned to rest?

First off, what actually counts as rest?

Rest is pausing work or other draining activities, so you can benefit from what I call the three Rs: Relaxation, Refresh, and Recover.

1. What counts as rest for you will be a task for someone else.

I love listening to podcasts or watching YouTube videos. While it’s highly dependent on the content, a favorite of mine is Bailey Sarian, creator of Murder, Mystery, And Makeup.

Combining my love of all things contouring with the grit of true crime, I enjoy relaxing and getting caught up in the stories while improving my winged liner skills.

However, I have plenty of friends that would rather have a root canal than watch it. I know many individuals that like to go for a brisk walk, hike, or hit the gym to relax.

Others toss back some chips and get settled in for bad Netflix movies. The goal is finding an activity you enjoy and allowing yourself to tune out.

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2. Do you feel energized and refreshed afterward?

We’ve established that relaxation looks different for everyone. Now, let’s focus on how it makes us feel.

Think (and you may need to dig deep into your memories) about the last time you had a fabulous night’s sleep. Sans coffee in the morning, you felt fantastic, and there was a spry in your step. Is the activity you’re engaging in giving you a similar feeling?

Occasionally, my rest of choice is reading a book I get lost in, emerging hours later, mentally jetlagged from my journey of real life to the moors of England and back. After that period of transition, though, I feel refreshed.

It’s as if my mind got reset, and I can focus again. If you’re not the bookworm type, being in nature may be restful to you. Simply sitting in a park on a pretty day with no obligations and mindlessly watching people can do more than you think.

The more artistically inclined may enjoy sketching or painting (don’t do this if it’ll make you hyper focus on details since it negates our goal). Bottom line, find something that revitalizes you and keep doing it more!

3. Recovery takes many forms.

In all things, we practice intent, consciously or subconsciously. Rest is an inherent need, but we must also assess what we need rest from.

Overworked mom? Frazzled student? Exhausted breadwinner? The demands of everyday life? I could make an entire list.

Discovering something that counts as rest for you gives you a sense of refreshment. But does it leave you feeling recovered? If you’re still feeling restless, rethink your rest routine until you find a combination that works.

There’s an old adage that says if you don’t rest, your body will do it for you. We exercise, take vitamins, eat veggies, and follow medical advice to keep our bodies healthy.

But we are more than our bodies. Each of us is a complex individual comprised of many parts. Our minds and bodies require rest.

So, the next time someone scoffs at your downtime, tell them to try it sometime. They probably need it!

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Anna Laura Herndon is a writer, advocate, and creator of Rants of a Virgo, an essay site. She writes about love, relationships, LGBTQ+ issues, and current events.

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This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.