How to Overcome the Fear of Rest
I little over a month ago, I announced that I was taking some time off from meeting with you like this…in the blog. Thank you to all who encouraged me and communicated support of my journey! I appreciate it!
As promised, over time, I will share the lessons, big and small, that I have learned during this brief time of reset. And wow! What a reset it has been!
With any experiment, it is best to begin with a hypothesis, a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation (according to the dictionary). In this case, my theory was this: Increasing self-care and priority focus while decreasing activity and “stuff” would lead to growth and better habits. I have to admit that the journey is not complete. However, I wanted, no...needed...to share what I am learning.
ABOUT THE JOURNEY
To be honest (and you know I am), I was afraid. Yes…AFRAID.
I was afraid that taking the leap to stop my work/life flows would leave me unsatisfied and unfulfilled. I was afraid that I would sabotage my own business growth by taking such a step…you know, the timing and all. I was afraid of loss because I knew that I had to let go of some things, and I couldn’t pinpoint which activities would go for good and which would eventually return.
So, I began this research journey with trepidation.
RHYTHM & BLUES
Life is all about rhythm. (For a dance lover like me, I love that idea.) There is a rhythm to the way every home is run, to the work flow in an office, to even how the body regulates itself. The cadence of one’s life can be hypnotic and lead one to believe that the ‘way it is’ is the way it has to be. The revelation that we have more control than we exercise is one that must be rehearsed.
I had been operating at high-speeds with a full load for a very long time. I tend to thrive on the complexity of sorting through multiple issues at once. It's safe to conclude that I always have a lot going on. However, the commitment to living at that pace indefinitely is unsustainable.
While in that place, the temptation to avoid facing certain aspects of life is real. The mere mention of dealing with an issue that could potentially disrupt my rhythm was fear-inducing. So, I avoided it. I put it off with excuses and busyness. This just left me with unresolved areas that were begging for attention.
Can you relate?
I was working hard to keep pace with all the balls I had in the air, yet there was a bunch of sidelined items awaiting my focus. How could I be true to fully expressing myself while storing away the stuff I didn’t want to deal with? I had things tucked away, both physically and emotionally, that I planned to get to “one day” AND I was literally running out of storage space…literally and figuratively. When I finally admitted to myself that I was in that place, I had to address it.
I needed to change the rhythm of my life to address some things and to learn new moves for a new rhythm.
But Fear is a tricky contender. On one hand, it is a necessary part of our composite as humans. It's meant to help protect us from danger. So, I don’t want to be completely without fear.
The problem is that when I am confronted with any situation that throws off my life-rhythm, I cling to the safety of the known even when a better tempo is presenting itself. That’s the other hand…where fear baits me to remain in my comfort zone, to cling to the rhythm I know. Thus, forfeiting the possibility of what could be, maintaining the status quo.
I started with a simple question: Why are you doing this? Then, I asked: Why is that important for you to do? Can someone else do that for you? Can you just leave that undone? I used “why” questions to peel back the layers of my thinking to get to the core of my motivations and check for alignment with my professed beliefs, priorities, and goals.
~I stopped writing my blog posts but I did jot down ideas and lessons that came to me along the way.
~I stopped checking social media every day, checked it every couple of days…then abandoned it completely for a couple of weeks.
~I used my new time to reimagine my business and purge my physical space.
I didn’t have in mind how long this “break” would be nor did I have a specific outcome that I was shooting for in the process. I wanted to be open so I could be in tune enough with my new rhythm to know when to pick up the tempo of activity.
One important lesson that I learned is that I must actively fight against the fear of rest. Yes...rest!
Our culture mistakenly teaches us that everything must be done now (or earlier) and if you don’t fill every moment with a profit generating or worthwhile activity, you will not have the life you dream of. Rest is many times equated with laziness or unproductiveness. This perspective is slowly sucking the life out of us.
Yes, building the life and business you love and that fully expresses your uniqueness requires work. But not just work for work’s sake…it is intentional work that yields the greatest ROI. And rest must be a major factor in that equation.
Rest is a power move.
When you rest in the form of a walk or other types of movement, a nap, or more “ordinary work” like washing the dishes, you boost creativity and productivity, rest researchers reveal. Rest periods help to cement the benefits of intense work in the brain. Having an especially difficult challenge? The brain noodles the problem at hand in the background as you rest.
Vacations are great. But we tend to go into them completely depleted and fill our time off with activity. We return from vacation needing another vacation.
How to overcome the fear of rest and fit in the rest you need?
Add rest to your daily habits. True rest can be harnessed through slight shifts in how your time is used. If you bring your lunch, eat at your desk. Then take a 20 minute walk with your favorite playlist. Or set a timer to 5 minutes and close your eyes and take deep breaths. Or work in 90 minute sprints, taking at least 10 minutes to break between each time block.
Look, I want to see you living and working in step with your potential. Join me in dispelling the lies of fear and making rest a priority.
Until next time...
P.S. In the comments below, please share one way that you rest on a regular basis OR one way you plan to incorporate rest stops in your life.