1. Has there been a time when you did not prioritize rest in your own life? If so, what made you realize that you needed a change? Did you find that shift easy or hard?
Oh dear…of course there are times I don’t prioritize rest! I have found that the truest definition of self-care I’ve ever heard is that self care is an ongoing tuning in and responding to your deepest needs. Once I released the idea that to live a vital, well-cared for life meant filling all aspects of my self care needs perfectly… but instead staying connected to who I am and what I needed most right now, everything began to soften and shift.
So when restorative rest has been taking a back seat and it becomes clear to me I need a little more attention there, I work to shift my focus and fill that cup. No drama, no guilt…just a gentle shift in pace and attention to give myself a little more in that area.
In terms of what makes me realize I need more rest? My experience has been that when I can create small spaces of quiet in my life and dial down the hurry and the noise, and I truly ask myself what I most need—I always know. So if I’m irritable and sad or stressed and frazzled and I take 2 minutes, close the bathroom door, put my hand to my heart, let my breath calm me down for a moment and ask “What do you need right now?” the answer comes. Sometimes it’s, “I need to eat something healthy,” sometimes it’s “I need to slow down and close my eyes for a few minutes,” sometimes it’s “I need to call a friend and talk,”…but the answer seems to always come when I’m ready to listen.
2. Are there signs in your own life that you watch for to indicate you’re not getting enough rest?
Yup—I believe we all have personal warning signs. For me it’s often when I notice I keep trying to “push through” my day…that tends to be my default counter-balance for exhaustion. Other personal warning signs are snappiness, brain fog, or a lingering low motivation around life and what my days brings me.
3. What are your favorite self-care practices for prioritizing rest in your life? How have those changed over time?
By far an evening routine that feels DELIGHTFUL! Emphasis on delight. When I fill an evening routine with things I’m looking forward to—that I really enjoy—like music I love, aromas I love, pampering bubble baths or a favorite novel…new journal pages or a favorite pen to write with or a guided meditation that feels just right to me… When I infuse closing the circle of my day with things that truly make me happy, it is that much easier to commit to it and make it a part of my daily routine.
4. I love your focus on the importance of an evening routine. What does your evening routine look like? How do you avoid the temptation to zone out on social media or in front of the TV to get true rest instead?
Ha! Didn’t realize your next question was about evening routines!
My natural temperament makes it so strict routine becomes quickly boring to me…so I almost always create lots of place for flow and spontaneity even within my rituals and routine. Just like I mentioned in the above question’s answer, I have a growing list of calming, quieting and closing kinds of practices that feels really wonderful to me and I chose from them as I like.
The parts of the evening routine that feels firm are the time limits I have on screen time (when computers and TV get shut down) and the physical preparation for bed—changing into PJs, washing my face, moisturizing my skin…after that I stay open to what is calling to me…do I want to let my thoughts have a place on paper? Do I want to close up the circle in my home and tidy the kitchen and prep my morning a bit? Do I want to read something I can get lost in or is inspirational? Do I want to snuggle with my husband and watch a show together? I’m open to many parts of an evening routine that may work—and I’m open to hearing when they no longer work, too so I can shift.
5. You still have young children, like many of our course participants; how do you prioritize rest when you have babies or young children who might not care about your scheduled rest when they just need their mama?
For me, this comes down to the larger concept of rest I’ve adopted which is that I can feel restored both by gaining more restorative sleep and by lightening my load during my waking hours. So I’m very keen to triaging on a moment by moment basis, and if I’m in a stretch or a season where my sleep is broken or diminished by things I have no control over, I shift into lightening the load as much as possible.
What can come off my plate (even for today)…sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to lighten the load because we go into the “all or nothing” trap—believing if we say no today to something it means no forever. What if today, trying to make that gymnastics class will just spread you too thin and everyone would do better to stay home and rest on the couch? It doesn’t mean you can’t go next week…take one day at a time and respond to your needs today—that’s the best way to set yourself up for success tomorrow anyway.
6. What benefits of prioritizing rest have you seen in your own life?
Oh let me count the ways. We know from just the physiology of it that rest is critically connected to every area of your wellbeing—from helping your body maintain proper weight, provide high energy, stay well-protected with a strong immunity and heal and restore on a cellular level. Your mind also needs proper sleep for mental and emotional functions on every level.
But more than anything I’ve found my commitment to making rest just as important as any other part of my well-being practices is that I’ve come to embrace the larger picture around the wisdom of a extraordinary life- that buying into the go-go-go mania of our culture diminishes our lives and sets us up for so much less than embracing our own definition of true wellness and vitality which says cycles and seasons and rhythms all have equal value and all give us gifts that we would miss when we get too hyper-focused on the action-productivity-oriented aspect of life.