Fall is always a season that pulls me towards slowing down and resting. The days are shorter, I crave slow cooked warm soups and all I want to do is read a book by the fireplace. The thing is I often end up with a very judgmental inner dialogue because I came to believe that resting=sleeping and that when I am awake, I need to be productive.
I am under the impression I am not alone in this battle.
So, while I am in no way an expert on the subject, I am writing this blog post in hope that others feel seen and less alone, but more importantly as a commitment to myself to explore ways to cultivate more rest in my life. Rest is always encouraged during pregnancy and early parenthood, but for those for whom taking a nap is just not an option (like me! CANNOT nap:\) I hope you can start exploring other ways to slow down that work for you. It’s a great exercise to connect to your inner knowing and intuition and start honouring the cycle and flow of your life while releasing the pressure we (and society) put on us.
Nature is the best guided meditation out there. The sound of the wind in the trees, a river flowing or birds chirping is sure to bring me a sense of calm and peace. It’s a place that makes me feel part of something so much greater than myself and all the pressure of ‘’what I should do’’ seem so futile in that environment. There is little ‘’should’’ in nature, just ‘’be’’. If your day is too busy to go out for a hike, maybe walking home instead of driving could be a great opportunity to get some fresh air. If you are a new parent, your baby will also benefit from spending time outside and lots of parents told me they tend to fall asleep easier outside. Just bundle up!
Taking a bath is a form of therapy for me. When my anxiety is at its highest, I run myself a bath and often will put my head under the water to cover my ears. The silence helps me ‘’hear’’ my thoughts more clearly and everything doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Running your hands or feet under cold water is also a great way to snap out of a panic attack or quickly reconnect with your body if all your energy is up in your head. If you tend to live at 100 miles an hour and have a very chatty mind like me, you might often find it exhausting and like you can’t take a break from it because even when you try to sleep or do something restful, your brain is still going. That’s why I think doing things that bring some of my energy back into my body is so great. It helps balance it out. + you can add Epsom salts to the water, which actually helps your muscles relax. Most babies actually do love water when it’s warm and their bodies are submerged so feel free to make this a great relaxing and bonding experience for you two.
Taking productivity out of it
I try to do more thing like arts, reading a book, doing a puzzle, watching a show, etc. As long as it’s something that brings joy and that doesn’t pressure you to accomplish something out of it. If you are someone that wants to sell all their art projects or only reads self-help books, can you bring more ease into those practices and simply enjoy them? Don’t get me wrong, I am a life-long learner and I have a me-high stack of educational books, but I recently picked up a novel simply with the goal of reading it for fun. I finished it in 3 days! This hasn’t happened since high school when I would have to stay up all night to read a book for a book report due the next day. I truly enjoyed it and it was such a great way to relax and rest.
Now if you have children, this also applies to them too. I often find parents of children of all ages so preoccupied with their child’s development, achieving the next milestone, constantly entertain their kids and not waste one minute of the precious week-end so they pack their schedule FULL of activities. It’s great. I see you trying to support your child, but I do believe rest is beneficial for kids too. They also get overstimulated and tired. Teaching them to listen to their body and rest when they need it is SO beneficial and a skill so few of us were taught. Being bored is also great for their creativity. Are you more afraid that your child becomes ‘’lazy’’ or that they are riddled with anxiety because they believe that their worth is related to their level of productivity all the time? Again, I am not an expert, and this is just to spark an introspection and encourage exploration and conversation. You do what works best for your family.
Switching up my workout routine
Exercising takes energy but it gives you more energy in return. It’s also great for my mental health but often not on my priority list when my mental health is struggling. Because I find this a bit confusing and often contradictory, I find it hard to have a consistent exercise practice. So now, I try to listen to my body and release the limiting ideas I have of what a ‘’good’’ workout should look like. If I am too tired for a run, maybe a gentle yoga sequence will do just fine. Not every time I get on my snowboard needs to feel like I just trained for the Freeride World Tour. Movement is movement and when I am tired and need to rest, I can pick activities that are gentler.
Changing my relationship to rest
I apologize that this is blog post is not very practical. While I tried to hint at some of the concrete things I do to rest, cultivating rest starts with observing the mindset we have about it. We cannot cultivate rest if we still feel shame and resistance and have an unrealistic relationship with productivity. If you are interested in this subject, check out The Nap Ministry on Instagram. They believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. And if you are a parent that want to rest some more, but find It difficult to find the time with a new baby at home, let’s chat to see how my postpartum support services could support you!