The holidays have passed, and a new year is here. If we follow tradition (and cultural norms), now is the time of year when we set new goals for ourselves, and start working toward them. Reflecting on the past year and dreaming about the accomplishments of this one is certainly a positive thing, but what if your New Year’s resolutions this year focused not on doing more, but on not doing anything more often?
Many of us forget the importance of rest and the joy of simply not doing everything and anything we possibly can with our time. In the midst of the hustle, it’s easy to lose sight of the necessity of slowing down, recharging, and relaxing. But, research shows that rest can actually make you even more effective in your hustle. Taking breaks and time away from work (whether it’s employment work, housework, or any other kind of work) can significantly decrease your chance of burnout and keep you highly motivated when it is time to hustle. The start of a new calendar is a fitting time to reconsider your habits and lifestyle, so why not consider making space for more rest as you begin 2020?
Resting Doesn’t Have to Mean Doing Nothing
What does it mean to “rest,” anyway? We all have our own definition, and in your life, rest can be whatever truly recharges you and nourishes your mind and soul. For some, resting consists of meditation or reading a book for fun. For others, resting is equivalent with taking a nap. For still others, it’s getting out in nature and taking a hike through a favorite stretch of woods.
If doing something solitary or silent sounds more like a recipe for an endless mental tailspin than an appealing period of respite, then make your “rest” into what you need! Choose an activity that feels serene and restful to you, then consider how often you’d like to do your restful activity this year. Once a week? Once a month? Several times a week? Think of what you’ll need (time, tangible items, freedom from obligations) in order to do this restful activity, then work on creating the space for it.
Keep in mind that a restful activity is a bit different from the popular ‘me time’ which often involves social activities or getting things done for yourself. Personally, my plan is to start crocheting again. I’m not very good at it, but in the past, I’ve noticed that I felt refreshed after I crochet– even if I didn’t actually produce anything useful. My family and I just moved to a new home, and when we moved in, I set up a nice basket with my hooks, yarn, and a pattern to make granny squares. Granny squares are difficult to mess up, and making them will give me the relaxing time and mental space I need. Plus, once I finish a bunch of them, a unique blanket will be my reward (along with some peace of mind!).
Creating Physical Space for Rest
Once you’ve identified a restful activity you want to incorporate into your life, designate a space in your home, office, or community to make it happen. Consider moving your favorite chair into your bedroom to create an inviting reading corner, or clear out a few bins in your spare closet to hold knitting or other hobby supplies. If your resting involves an activity outside your home or physical exercise, gather all the clothing and other items you’ll need for it and keep them in one place, then choose exactly where you’ll go (a local park, a pottery studio, your backyard, or even the gym) for your “rest time.”
If you’ve simply resolved that your version of rest this year will be better quality sleep, take a look at your bedroom and consider how you could make the space as serene and calming as possible. If it’s in your bedroom, could you relocate your desk (and all its piles of paperwork) to another place in your home? Could you purchase a shelf or bin to corral all the shoes that seem to accumulate right next to your nightstand? Perhaps you could even organize your closet or other clothing storage so that clutter isn’t hiding behind closed doors (and you can truly relax at night knowing that your mornings will go smoothly!). Do you need better lighting or perhaps more comfortable sheets? Consider a sound machine or perhaps a sleep mask.
Mental space and physical space for rest in your bedroom are closely related. Consider keeping your phone and other electronic devices somewhere across the room from your bed, or even in a different room of your home. This way, your physical surroundings will remain uncluttered, and you won’t give yourself the opportunity to clutter up your mental state with email, social media, or mindless browsing. Combined, a calm mental state and serene physical environment as you prepare for bedtime will almost certainly improve your quality of rest as you sleep.
Holding Mental Space for Rest in Your Life
Unless you make space in your calendar for rest, you’ll always be tempted to skip or postpone a time of rest and relaxation. Much like you would make plans in advance with a friend, open your calendar and schedule “resting sessions” for yourself for several weeks– maybe even several months– in advance. Then, KEEP your date with yourself!
Consider any potential setbacks that could derail your plan to rest, and then take steps to minimize the risks of those things occurring. Afraid you’ll be home alone with your kids that night? Go ahead and schedule a babysitter, or ask your spouse to come home early so they can watch your children. Worried you’ll get stuck at work late? Communicate with your boss a few weeks in advance to let them know that you need to leave at a certain time on your planned day.
If you need to go to a specific location for your rest time, don’t schedule any important meetings, errands, or tasks right before your planned activity. Be sure to leave plenty of time for making the trip there. Mentally walk yourself through any excuses you can come up with, and then take tangible steps to stay ahead of the excuses so that resting remains a priority. Your future self will thank you!
Rest Regularly So You Can Truly Engage In Your Life
Burnout is very real, and unfortunately, many of us don’t realize we’re headed toward it until it’s too late. When you’re proactive and intentional about resting, you’re giving yourself the physical and mental space you need to recharge and avoid burning out. When you rest regularly, you’re more present with those you love, and your focus and motivation levels at work are higher.
If you need help creating physical space for rest in your home or reconfiguring your lifestyle to make rest a priority, A Fresh Space is ready and waiting to support you. Let our skilled team encourage and guide you along the journey to create a mindful, restful life and home. Contact us today to set up your consultation.