Attention Busy People: It’s OK to Take a Day of Rest
I pride myself on being a productive person. During the week, in addition to work, creating content, cooking, and trying to exercise every day, #pandemictimes have resulted in there always being a plethora of interesting (and usually free) webinars to attend, designed to educate, activate, and entertain me.
Plus, every week I typically bake #pandemicsourdough, go to the farmers' market, re-apply my purple hair color, and do weekly meal-planning. I often assign a bigger task to the weekend. This weekend, for example, I’ve dedicated to pulling together all the info I need to do my taxes. Next weekend, I want to figure out what I want to plant in my garden this year. Weekend after, I think I’ll do another Konmari sweep of my closet (and probably get rid of any pants that have buttons and zippers ... leggings and joggers are my life now).
A couple of weekends ago, though, I hit a wall. I confess up front: I was cranky. I had strained my calf muscle and couldn’t walk without a limp. I had gotten declined for a business loan with no reason given, while the home loan refinance I’ve been working on was dragging along into its sixth month. My parents’ vaccine appointments had been unceremoniously canceled, without being rescheduled (resolved this week, thank goodness). And I’ll be honest, I realized I was 30 days out from one. full. year. in COVID lockdown. And I was definitely feeling some kind of way about that.
So, that Saturday morning, I tossed all my productive good intentions out the window and made the very conscious decision to give myself a day of rest. I decided it was OK to sulk. It was OK to laze about. It was OK to be utterly unproductive. It was OK not to exercise, cook, or do anything else remotely utilitarian. I realized that even as I often criticize #hustlep0rn, I usually engage in it. And I called myself on it!
I’m here to tell you: It’s OK for you to rest too. No matter whether you’re employed or not, healthy or not, financially stable or not, on the front lines of the COVID war or not, happy with your current political representation or not, part of the dominant caste or not, have recently lived through destructive climate incidents or not, we are all living through, say it with me, unprecedented times.
There is an underlying stress to everyday life that should not be ignored or waved away. For any of us. Don’t let your inner-critic tell you that if you’re not writing a novel, starting a business, or learning a language, you’re not “making the most” of the current situation.
Instead, let yourself take a day of rest. It’s what I did a couple of weeks ago, and it was just what I needed.
Here are 5 things to do (I should know, because I did them) that make for a perfect day of rest.
1. Stay in bed
I’m a morning person, so staying in bed past 8am is pretty unusual for me, but this time I stayed in bed well past noon. It felt inherently luxurious to be propped up by pillows, cozy and warm under my comforter, a cat or two curled up around me, with nothing to do and nowhere to be. I knew I could stay there as long as I decided I wanted to. And when I decided I didn’t want to anymore? There was the couch calling me. Or a chair in our backyard sitting in the sun. Lounging. That’s my point. I lounged. Wearing lounge-y clothes. Doing lounge-y things.
I have a pile of unread magazines. I focused on ones heavy on pictures, light on serious essays. I read some light fiction. Thumbed through vegan cookbooks. My day of rest wasn’t the day I made progress on the serious non-fiction I was reading. Save it for another day.
3. Pamper yourself
I did a face mask. I rubbed some cuticle oil into my hands that are still recovering from winter (and so much hand washing). It’s the perfect time to use those aromatherapy oils you have, whether you’re looking for calming or clarity.
4. Take a nap
Best of all, lounging enables you to doze off at will. If you’re not experiencing a sleep deficit, congratulations to you, but my sleep is disrupted on the nightly, and most days I can’t just steal another 30 minutes of sleep in the middle of the day. Not so during my day of rest. Napping achievement unlocked!
Binge a feel-good TV show, eat the comfort food you normally ration, order in, give yourself one day to do or eat or try or watch or read something that you usually avoid because it feels indulgent. If the word "binge" feels uncomfortable outside a Schitts Creek context, then replace it with indulge, reward, enjoy.
The point is to treat yourself. And be kind to yourself.
Life feels very extra right now, no matter what your personal circumstances are, and you may be carrying around a lot of stress that you’ve become totally accustomed to without meaning to. Give yourself a break. It’s OK to rest.
I do want to add one caveat: If you’re finding you never want to get out of bed; if you’re feeling so unproductive it’s risking your health or your job or your relationships; if you’re experiencing some of these signs of depression or anxiety more often than not, then you may need more than a day of rest. You would be far from alone; there has been a marked rise in mental health issues during this past year of economic uncertainty, health-related fears, and isolation. MentalHealth.gov is a good place to start if you think you need help, or just someone to talk to.
Elisa Camahort Page is a speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur, best-known for co-founding BlogHer. She’s the host of The Op-Ed Page podcast and co-author of Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All. Learn more at elisacp.com.