Rest and Idleness is Good!
It’s the time of the year when we are all flat out like a lizard drinking, or running around like a headless chook – translation: super busy! (Being Aussie has its uses – the vernacular is rich!). There are so many things to do and the end of the year provides the perfect crunch time.
So with the holidays approaching and the finish line within sight, here’s some thoughts to help us through:
1. Own the need for a rest and a break, and settle into it.
We each have inherited beliefs around rest and work. When I was a kid, there was always a lot to do, and if mum saw us doing nothing there was trouble. I tried to make myself scarce when she was getting dinner on or doing the washing, because I (was lazy) would be called on to pitch in. Which is fine and reasonable, but when you just want to be left alone to read it was super annoying. So I learned to be sneaky about taking breaks, and pretend I was actually doing something else so one of the other 6 kids would be asked to hang out the washing.
What this meant though was it took YEARS before I felt I could just have a break. I always felt I needed to be alert and ‘on’. Looking busy (and actually being busy) instead of taking time to stop and rest and legitimately do nothing.
Luckily as adults we can write our own script.
So have a think about what is your default not-resting mode, and see how you can short circuit it over the upcoming holidays. We’re not 10 anymore, but sometimes those old patterns grip us, and we can find ourselves at the end of ‘time off’, and we haven’t actually rested or goofed about doing nothing!
2. Rest and doing nothing is a proven antidote to the cognitive overwhelm we suffer.
For those that need convincing, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang from the University of Southern California’s research shows how critical rest is to human mental function. When we are idle, the brain is able to process what it has already learned. It reflects and synthesises experiences, and surfaces and tries to unknot tensions and anomalies. So resting up actually fires up space for ideas, creativity and joy to emerge.
3. Choose your break and really go for it!
If you’re going to take time off, carve out the time to free up your heart, mind and body to relax. Scrolling on social or your phone isn’t a break. It might feel mindless, but it’s not. For myself, I’ll be doing a spot of camping, swimming in the creek, going to the beach and reading. And I’ll do it loud and proud, and not sneakily like my 10 year old self used to do!
(I’ll be looking a bit like this, only the dog is now bigger).
I’ll finish here with one of my favourite quotes – truly, words to live by…
“How beautiful it is to do nothing. And then rest afterwards”
May your holiday festivities be brimming with such extended moments of beauty.