Find rest in a busy life, without feeling like another thing to add to the to-do list

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When did it all get so fast?

I once said, the world needs more rest. And I meant the world, the people on it, the environment, the whole eco-system that is the earth. When did it all get so fast?

Rest used to be something that we did on a Sunday and in the evenings, on long summers days sat outside lazily watching the sky or cosying up by the fire allowing the mind to dream. Rest is now a task, an element of life that we aim to fit in our diaries, scheduled rather than intuitively felt into or woven into our routine with ease.

So why has rest been reframed and how can we find it again, as someone asked me, without it feeling like another thing to add to the to do list.

Firstly, lets look at it for its basic values. Rest, what is it?

  • Repose, sleep specifically : a bodily state characterised by minimal functional and metabolic activities.

  • Freedom from activity or labor. 

  • A state of motionlessness or inactivity.

The one thing that stands out to me here is ‘freedom from activity. Activity used to be work, spend time with the family, read a book and take exercise. Each of these elements have now expanded to be task orientated filled with distraction and all consuming devices such as our mobile phones and task tracking smart watches. I feel that because we now track our steps, monitor our water intake, follow our sleep patterns that it has turned the element of rest into another thing to do therefore adding it to our list which, more often than not, prioritizes work and others over self and rest.

So, How do we find Rest?

The last thing we want to do is add it to an already overflowing bucket of ‘things to do’. To start with, ask yourself the following:

  • What can you remove from your schedule?

  • Where can you simplify actions that can’t be removed?

  • What rest activities are now seen as a to-do activity?

What can you remove from your schedule?

Removing something from the schedule can be tricky so I look at my time in percentages.
For example – 60% work, 20% fitness and 20% time off. If adding something in then something has to go. 

Where can you simplify actions that can't be removed?

Let us use the home as an example. Do household tasks such as cleaning or gardening take up rest time? If it brings you joy and you feel rested and restored afterwards then go for it! If it depletes you, is a chore then farm out these tasks. Hire a gardener, get a cleaner, draw up a board at home and allocate the tasks out or do 3o minutes a day so that it is not your whole day off used up.

Where rest activities are now seen as a to-do activity?

I do have a smartwatch and I do use it to track my running however I frequently go for a run now without worrying about the time it is taking me and on occasion when the battery has died my enjoyment levels escalate.  The run is about being out, chatting to friends without the internal pressure of minutes per mile.
If the purpose of a long walk with a friend is to catch up then that should be the purpose, not worrying about minutes per mile, step count or/and calories consumed. 

It takes getting clear on what you want, why you want it in order to create it.  Why not see this as part of the process to access more rest. Sit down with a cuppa, look at the above listed questions and begin to get curious about what changes you can make. The changes may be challenging as we are now is a world that feels continually full. As you begin this process though, stripping away tasks that can be given to someone else or saying no to something in order for you to rest, you will notice freedom gradually arrive and rest begin to be
a part of your life and not something that is just part of your to-do list.

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