The dog days of summer are upon us and a lot of us are enjoying much needed getaways and vacation time with friends and family. In keeping with my “R” theme (check out my blog posts on Resolve, Readiness and Resilience) I want to focus on an under-rated but powerful tool not only for stress-relief but for getting centered; REST. Yes, you heard it. I’m advocating doing nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is the most powerful way of gaining the perspective, strength, insight and energy to move boldly forward. In doing nothing we sometimes are empowered to do something; to make changes. We also sometimes realize where we need to do nothing; to not engage with a person or situation, to avoid being overly-reactive. In rest we pause, we pay attention to our internal dialogue, we hear ourselves and we practice being present in our lives. We get centered.
But I’m not talking about a once a year rest or even a quarterly vacation. I am talking about a regular (dare we dream daily) habit of resting. In our fast-paced existence we all feel its impossible to slow down. And yet daily rest is incorporated into the working lives of people all over the world. We have all heard of siesta in Spain and Italy has its own version called riposo or posolino where shops and businesses close for several hours in the afternoon so people can go home for a long lunch or a nap. This practice also happens in many other European countries or countries with extreme weather. In both China and Japan “public napping” called inemuri in Japanese (translated as “being present while sleeping”) is a culturally accepted practice with employees napping at their desks during work hours.
In our culture, we believe to some extent that rest is self-indulgent or lazy and only acceptable AFTER we have exhausted ourselves to the point that it is justified. But the science of sleep and rest has shown that sleep and rest is directly related to being productive. Thankfully, the zeitgeist is changing. I listened to a great podcast interview of Ariana Huffington, the multi-media mogul and creator of the Huffington Post. She has written extensively about the benefits of more sleep (has a great TED talk on this topic) and has even incorporated nap rooms in her corporate offices for her employee’s daily use. In the last few years, Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna has offered free meditation and yoga classes to his employees and has reduced health care costs and increased productivity.
Rest is not just about being more productive or energizing us for our lives, it is also a necessary pause that allows us to hear our true selves. That helps us get centered. The poet David Whyte says that in rest “we breathe as the body intended us to breathe. When we give and take in this foundational way we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when we are most rested. To rest is not self indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and to perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given.”
So I encourage you all to slow down; use your vacation days and don’t check email, put your devices away in the evening and listen to your spouse and children, don’t work through lunch, close your eyes for 20 minutes when your children are napping or watching t.v., leave the laundry for another day (its not going anywhere), and take a sharpie to the unimportant parts of your schedule. To prioritize rest and relaxation the way we do trips to the gym or other types of self-care. Because in resting we re-charge, we pause to hear ourselves and we are able to bring our best selves to our lives. Wishing you all a restful rest of the summer.
For more information about family law issues and for help bringing your best self to your life, contact Georgia Fraser, Esq. of Fraser Family Law Office, LLCat 609-223-2099.