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Do you need a Rest?

busy cat exhausted mental health mum life occupational therapy rest self help strategies well-being woman health woman supporting woman Oct 15, 2021

I have been struck recently with the amount of people who when asked how they are - answer with “ Oh you know, busy, busy!” or “Yeh good, just really busy!” Or friends who I have not seen for a while, there is an automatic apology of “So sorry we have not caught up, life is so busy isn’t it!”

Life is busy. You can’t hold down a job, raise children, have a social life, run a household, look after elderly parents, lose weight, keep up with the series everyone is talking about, and not be busy! Full disclosure, I have been sitting on this blog post for two weeks because I was too busy to write it!! Ironic…

However, is it more than that? Have our identities become centred around being busy? Are we so lost in being busy, we actually don’t know what it feels like not to be? Or do we even want to be less busy? (Think about that one for a minute….)

We have a cat. Smudge. I was watching my kids playing with her the other day, and we have one of those red laser light toy thingy’s - you know the one? My kids move it around the floor and she goes wild for it! Darting all over the room trying to catch this constant moving red light. It doesn’t matter how fast that light is moving, if it is on the ceiling, high up the wall, or disappeared under the TV unit - Smudge keeps at it - determined to get her paws on this red light.

I was watching the scene play out and it got me wondering… If I could watch a movie of my day would I look like this cat? Constantly chasing an ever shifting list of jobs, darting from one side of the town to the other, using vast amounts of energy to try to reach things that when you catch them they evaporate, evaporate in importance or value.

Our brains match our computer screens - 40 tabs open - jumping between them, some crashing, some still loading, some with important tasks we need to do, some with half done pieces of work, then there is the one that keeps playing music that we can’t work out how to switch off! As if that wasn’t enough we have another screen in our hand!! Making us look every time it dings or gives a seductive vibrate! Come look at me…..

Even when we step away from the screen - our minds are still there. You sit down for a cup of coffee and wonder if that’s the distinctive TEAMS ringtone you can hear? Or you grab a shower and think your child is crying? Anyone? Just me? I currently feel haunted by the TEAMS ringtone!

Sometimes in life we can dart around, chasing that red light, and we cope. We maybe would not say we are ‘living our best life’ but we are doing okay. There are chinks of light and joy amongst the chaos. Other times we feel like any minute now our brain is going to explode! On a really special day… we can feel both!

But, is it what you want? Do you want that busyness to be part of your identity? Hi, I’m Laura and I’m busy. I am too busy to stop and work out what is valuable to chase. I am too busy to stop and work out why I spend hours procrastinating certain tasks. I am too busy to have that difficult discussion about how my relationship is going. I am too busy to reach out to someone and tell them I need help.

We often use busyness to stop us dealing with the hard stuff, but you know what, sometimes it just isn’t the right time to deal with the hard stuff - I know, controversial for a therapist to say who’s living is based on people working out the hard stuff! This post is not about that though.. it is about Rest.

It is always the right time to start carving out some time for rest. Your body needs it. Your brain needs it. You need to REST. This does not mean sitting in a cabin, in the woods, meditating… unless you have access to a cabin in the woods and a love for meditation!

Rest is not the Absence of activity, but the presence of Peace.

Take 5 minutes. Work out who is operating that red laser light you are darting around to catch. The media? (panic over fuel…anyone?) Other peoples’ expectations? A manager? A toxic relationship? Your children? Your own standards?

Now take another 5 minutes. Do you need to chase it? Stand back… watch the light for a bit.. assess it.. does it need your energy right now? Choose conscious actions over reactive behaviours.

Choose a board game with the kids over hoovering the floors

Choose to say ‘no, sorry I can’t do that this week’ to someone rather than ‘no problem’

Choose to go for a walk in the rain rather than sit and zone out on your phone

Choose to go to bed at 10pm rather than watch TV until 11pm

Choose activities that fill up your tank. That bring you rest.

Are you ready to take action?

I'm ready!