Just as important as action? Inaction
In our world success is seen as the result of activity, motivation, sweat, push, push, push. A lot of motivational speakers stress the importance of being “up”, being positive, assertive and in quite an extraverted state for most of the time. For some of us this is completely natural and energising – for others it is a stretch and quite draining.
We need to find the right balance of activity and rest for us, and this is different for each person depending on their personality, lifestyles, cultures, jobs, bodies and responsibilities.
But no matter whether we are more introverted or extraverted, we all need rest. This allows us to re-charge but also gives time and space for things to mature and deepen. Too much activity and push can lead to a superficial level of action, results and success, but underneath there is often a lack of integration, cohesiveness and nourishment.
This attitude can often be driven by the more surface world of looking great on social media, where it is felt that we need to post a lot and look great all the time – but that is not how real life is. Real life is sleeping, morning hair, feeling grumpy occasionally, shopping for food, so many things that are not looking perfect and motivated. So I would just like to take a moment to consider if you are resting enough. Possible signs you are not might include
- Feeling restless, always looking for the next task to do
- Finding it hard to switch off
- Nervous, repetitive twitches and actions
- Relying on caffeine/ sugar/ other to get you through the day
- Needing to be constantly entertained
- Feeling anxious or irritable
- Physical symptoms of tiredness and exhaustion
Rest is any kind of downtime where you are not trying to be productive, you feel at peace and like there is no need to produce an end result of any kind.
This might be a break from the screen, a walk at lunchtime to get out of the office, a bath, a nap, a cuddle with someone, a stretch, reading a book, looking at cat videos – any intermission from what you are normally doing for most of the day. And if you are too busy; if you do check your phone or watch quite a lot of TV, maybe you can use some of that time to do something that is restful for your body and mind – even a micro nap could help. You may find that you feel restored and come back with a fresh perspective.
It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
If you are looking for a good place to start, why not try this visualisation exercise on finding your self-love mentor. It’s not strictly about relaxation, but it is about finding someone who can help you find it!