If 21st-century life has taught us anything, it's definitely taught us to continuously be on the move, striving to be busy all the time and attempting to make the most out of productivity that we possibly can. But, what about if we need to learn how to stop resisting rest quite so much?
We don’t need to tell you that life in our modern-day society is full-on, hectic, physically and mentally exhausting, even. Let’s face it, it’s probably how you stumbled across Unplugged in the first place - you wanted to get away from it all, right? But let us guess, although you love the idea of unplugging and switching off, you’re generally pretty terrible at resting, are we right? And by resting, we don’t just mean putting your feet up with a cuppa at the end of a busy day, or making time for that favourite show you like to cosy on up to. We mean real resting. Resting that takes your body back to its most uninterrupted, calm, and meditative state.
You’re not alone. As 21st century humans, we’ve created a society that rewards people for being busy. There’s a real internalisation and feeling that rest is a weakness and brownie points are handed out for seeming busy all the time - yes, we’ve seen your time stamps on Instagram. We're constantly processing obscene amounts of data, obsessed with working overtime and feeding the hamster wheel of stimulation, and we love to glorify never taking time off. It’s become scary to take a step back, because we’ve embedded so much of our self-esteem in the constraints of being busy and ‘successful’.
What's left, though, is a sense of always being 'on', something that has probably left you wondering why you are so resistant to truly resting. In fact, it’s also created a circular burnout culture, whereby more busy-ness leads to more stimulation, leads to more resistance to rest and a chronic lack of downtime. As The Sleep Foundation stated in a recent study: ‘“Revenge bedtime procrastination” describes the decision to sacrifice sleep for leisure time that is driven by a daily schedule lacking in free time. For people in high-stress jobs that take up the bulk of their day, revenge bedtime procrastination is a way to find a few hours of entertainment even though it results in insufficient sleep.’
'As 21st-century humans, we’ve created a society that rewards people for being busy. There’s a real internalisation and feeling that rest is a weakness and brownie points are handed out for seeming busy all the time - yes, we’ve seen your time stamps on Instagram'
So, what do we need to do? Essentially, we need to reinvent our perceptions of rest - as a culture, we’ve somewhat blurred the lines between rest and distraction. Find yourself super scrolling or mindlessly watching Netflix in your allocated ‘switched off’ time? This doesn’t equate to rest, as in rest being a true recharge and renewal of self and soul. Instead, it only works to further add fuel to the fire of burn-out and overstimulation. It should be about unplugging, and placing our brains in a place of true, unadulterated downtime.
Resting doesn’t mean you’re being lazy and downtime shouldn’t have become dispensable. It’s time to stop praising people for constantly overworking as though overworking and being busy automatically equates to being successful. We can reframe what rest really means. Times of rest can allow our minds to refuel and be creative again, they can be a great way of showing self-care to younger eyes and they can help us to maintain a healthy lifestyle for longer.
Ultimately, we can’t rewire our human nature enough to become the robots we have tried to become. In resisting rest, we’ve attempted to find ways to make caffeine go further, make our bodies stay up for longer, keep us as connected and stimulated as possible at all times and, quite frankly, it’s not humanly possible. Unless we find a way to change our biological make-up, the way our sleep hormones and heartbeat works, we’re not made to function 24/7. So, what place does the act of resting have in our everyday lives and why is it something that is worth prioritising and practising? Resting is a fundamental part of our everyday life and something that is crucial to our long-term health, success, and happiness. Even a small break of a few minutes at a time allows our body time to heal if it needs to and refresh. Rest, done properly, sets your body up to mend itself if necessary, and returns to a state of homeostasis so it can repair and recover.
You’ll also notice that rest decreases the constant fight or flight mode you feel when stressed and overstimulated. Instead, resting activates the opposite mode, the parasympathetic nervous system. As with anything, your brain is also less useful when it is fatigued and tired, so resting also plays a part in ensuring productivity, too. Ever wondered where the term ‘sleep on it’ comes from? Well, you might just find the answer if you actually give it a go. That’s because you’re much more likely to think clearer after significantly resting than after an attempt to power through any difficult or tricky decisions on a tired body and soul. But how do we embrace rest at Unplugged, exactly (apart from the fact that it’s the beating heart of our ethos!)?