Rest Is My Religion
I have this motto I have come to live by, this phrase I say out loud that leaves the elders clutching their pearls, “I like to rest BEFORE I get tired”. This confession never did sit well in a world where you MUST kill yourself daily in order to appear accomplished or feel like you’re worth a damn. Wearing myself out is a no for me.
The best time for me to relax, take a break, or rest, is before I really need to. After experiencing the benefits of resting before I get tired as opposed to resting AFTER I get tired, has become a proactive mechanism of mine in which I have grown to appreciate, stop trying to hide, and stopped making excuses. This self-preservation tactic that I use where I rest before I get tired has helped minimize the stress in my life for well over ten years.
When I listen to some of the stories from people in my age group and what they have been through, I think to myself, dayum! That could have all been avoided if you would have made rest, for your mind and body, a priority. Studies show that when we get the rest we need, our minds and body function better. We think more rationally. We have better judgment. And we are more positive about life. This takes me back to my point of resting before I get tired. If studies have proven that all of these unhealthy things occur when we don’t get enough rest, then why on earth would I wait until AFTER I have completely depleted myself and crashed and burned before I decide to rest? Yeah, that sounds bassackwards to me, too!
I don’t have to go off of some expensive studies, on a lack of rest, conducted by a bunch of strangers, I have my own personal experiences to concur with their findings. There was a time in my life when I did not take my rest seriously and it took a toll on me. Had me feeling like I wasn’t good enough, I was never gonna get out of the mess I was in, and I was worried all the time about everything.
Once I was able to see how important rest was, my whole life changed. Some of my health benefits of resting before I got tired include no mental breakdowns, a more positive attitude even in tough situations, a clearer mindset to make great decisions, and knowing the more peace I have the more peace I can give to others.
Resting Is my Religion. I practice it daily. I believe in mid-day naps. I believe in telling people no, wait, and slow down. I believe in nature walks in the spur of the moment, and I cherish any opportunity that allows me to break away from humans or technology to re-center myself, even if only for five minutes. Making sure I am intentional about taking time to rest should never be underestimated.
I feel like once I’ve gotten to that beginning mark of exhaustion, I’ve failed my self-care test *gasp*. Although I believe in failing as a tool to learn, I refuse to fail in the area of self-care ever again in life.
Now, I have been practicing self-care waaaay back when people called it “selfish”, “self-centered”, and “lazy”. Back when people really believed, “you’re too young to be tired”. As if being a mother, working full-time, starting a business, and volunteering in my community every other day didn’t require me to rest, simply because I was 24 years old. I thought those people were nuts, they proved me right. Those people were elders. Older black women coming from an era where they believed in being a mule, and you had to take care of everyone EXCEPT themselves and “tolerate” things and people that mean you no good. If you pay attention to an elder woman who doesn’t believe in self-care I bet she has a stern look on her face that takes a lot of work to soften. And be prepared for her to have more criticism than compliments coming your way.
Years ago when resting and unplugging was unheard of, I’d get remarks like, “I thought you were acting funny”, or “I thought you went and got pregnant”, or “I just figured you had drama in your life”. When in actuality, if folks would just ask probing questions and stop gossiping and pillow talking, I had just picked up a new book, or started writing one, or tried a new class, or took a private trip, or started learning a new language, or lounged around in the nude with soft fabrics on my skin… because I had the house to myself for a week…. maaaan! Solitude don’t get enough respect out here.
With the negative comments I would receive from resting and unplugging, I thought to myself, sheeesh! I need to get myself a new circle that didn’t think so negatively about me being healthy. Family, friends, everybody who talked about me resting, had to go. And I ain’t have no mercy.