For many of us, it’s hard to make a clear separation between our work and personal lives. By this, I mean having the ability to completely stop thinking about work obligations when one clocks out. The stress from deadlines, looming performance evaluations and trying to climb the corporate ladder render us paralyzed to pursuing what we really want. After all, no matter how we’d like to put it, we live in a world run by money. No money, no happiness. But even for those not consumed with chasing dollar signs, the ever-present reality of our need for fiat currency can overshadow the joy of simply existing.
For the past few weeks, I have been really determined to learn how to rest. Being in a state of calmness and peace means different things for different people. However, for me, it means not feeling anxious and not feeling the need to be constantly productive. My brain has been so hard-wired to work, that I tend to feel guilty when I’m not doing anything. My thoughts always go to, “Maybe I can get ahead in this course,” or “I should open up my tutoring schedule for a few more hours instead of sitting around this weekend.” Even when I’m watching a show on Netflix, I will start to feel bad about how I could be spending that time doing something that will benefit me more in the future.
Now I’m not saying that you should be spending all your time browsing through Netflix, neglecting your studies, or putting no effort into advancing your career. I just believe that genuinely learning to turn off our work brain and enjoy the precious free time we do have will be extremely beneficial, not only to our happiness but to our overall well-being. Also, learning to rest helps us to develop a practice of mindfulness. What exists now is nothing but the present. We can’t change the past and often times there is very little we can do to guarantee the future.
Additionally, I have been redefining what qualifies as resting in my life. Even though I absolutely adore watching K-dramas on Netflix and Criminal Minds on Hulu, I don’t feel refreshed after doing so. Anyone who has binged watched an entire season of a show in two days knows exactly what I’m talking about. The things we love to do in our free time aren’t always the best for resting our bodies and minds. Restful activities for me include reading books, crocheting, and baking (and of course, that oh-so-lovely mid-day nap). In conclusion, I believe that the biggest misconception about rest is that it is an easy thing to do, while in fact, true resting takes effort and discipline to develop. I have to actively fend off anxious thoughts that try to wiggle their way into my head, and firmly decide that at this moment I am at peace. I hope that you are able to cut out distractions and anything that impedes your ability to exist in a peaceful and mindful state.
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