Rest is revolutionary
So many women come to me run down, overwhelmed and low on energy.
They complain of being exhausted or run-down and want a quick fix. Is there a supplement they can take? Or a remedy of some kind that will help them keep going exactly as they have been – except this time with superhuman energy?
It must be that they are low in Vitamin D…or magnesium…or need probiotics.
Well, yes, maybe, I say, but also…
How many hours sleep do you get? How much of your energy are you giving away without recouping it?
But these questions are often shrugged off: “I just have too much going on right now. I can’t rest.”
Constant exhaustion is not normal.
You are not supposed to just keep going, denying yourself what you really need.
You don’t need to erase the inconvenient symptoms. You need to listen to them – they are messages and signals for how you need to take care of yourself.
Why are you refusing to rest?
So many women are telling themselves they shouldn’t be feeling how they are feeling. You should be able to just cope, surely?!
I’ve been in that place myself. For so many years, I turned on myself. What on earth is wrong with you, Niamh, that you can’t just keep up the pace? Shouldn’t you be over all your problems by now? Why are you always so tired and why can’t you seem to hang on to your health for five minutes?!
But where did I get these ideas from?
Who set the standards by which we’re trying to live? Who decided that we’re supposed to be able to keep soldiering on through major life events, like losing a loved one, giving birth, illness and heartbreak? Who made the rule that only superhuman levels of effort in our lives were acceptable?
It’s funny because we weren’t born with this issue! Babies come into the world with an innate respect for their own needs – it’s not even questioned. Of course I’m hungry. Of course I’m tired. Now, get. me. some. rest!!!
But as the years go by, we’re actively taught that our instincts are not to be trusted. We’re taught to override our own innate signals for rest.
We come to understand that rest is not respected. That to get respect we need to be seen to be productive. Do, do, do and go, go, go.
Work is elevated and admired. And rest is seen as unnecessary – a sign of weakness.
“The devil makes work for idle hands” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”
An acceptable woman
Women, in particular, absorb the message that be an acceptable woman, you must be seen to be putting others before yourself. Especially if you’re a mother.
Add into this mix the profound distrust of women who look after their own needs! There is nothing worse, it seems, than a “selfish woman”.
Top this all off with a prevailing notion that there is possibly something a bit defective about being female. We pick up on the message that our bodies and our desires are not to be trusted. That if we were to be left to our own devices that we would be completely out of control. So we need to police our natural instincts all the time just to keep ourselves in line (!)
If any of this is ringing a bell (or maybe if you’re still thinking this is a bit much and doesn’t apply to you!), have a think about how you’d answer these 4 questions…
1. What Was Your Mother’s Attitude To Rest?
What attitude to rest was modelled for you growing up? Did your mother regularly take time out for herself, making sure she was well-rested and full of the joys of life?
Or was she (more than likely!) a martyr, putting everyone’s needs before her own, serving children, husband, friends and elderly relatives’ needs and only allowing herself to take time out when she could literally go on no more.
Did you regularly see her complaining about how tired and unappreciated she was, but still pushing on through it all, as if someone was going to give her a medal for her forbearance and suffering?!
How much of this do you think you have taken on in your own life?
2. Do You Feel It’s a Waste of Time?
Do you believe that rest is such a waste of time, when you could be doing so many ‘productive’ things? You could be tidying the house; working out; catching up on the news; calling that person you need to call….
Do you get your sense of worthiness from being busy and productive.
(It’s worth noting here that some of the most ‘productive’ people devote a great deal of their lives to downtime: Arianna Huffington famously speaks about how sleep is the key to success and Charles Dickens is known to have written every morning and then spent the afternoon on long strolls, when he would get his best ideas!)
3. What Is Your Relationship With Your Body Like?
Very few of us are in touch with our bodies anymore.
Do you, like most of us, live up in your head where your mind runs the show? Do you make all your decisions using reason, rather than paying attention to the signals from your body: a sick feeling in your stomach, a heaviness in your heart, a recurring headache?
Do you override your body’s calls for sleep, by sitting up late watching tv or reading things on your phone?
Do you tell yourself how much you dislike the look of your body and punish it with exercise and dieting?
If your body’s not your friend, why would you listen to it?
4. Do You Believe You Have to Earn Rest? Or Suffer to be Worthy.
And the last hoary old story is that rest needs to be earned. Do you refuse to allow yourself to sit down until everything in the house is clean and tidy…and the kids are in bed…and the lunches are made for the next day? Or do you keep delaying holiday time from work because you haven’t finished up on that project yet? Do you not get time off, until you have properly ‘earned’ it?
What would happen if you just rested, without all tasks having been completed?
It’s time to change our relationship with ourselves. To get back in touch with who we really are, underneath all the stories that are making us so unhappy.
We’re all secretly craving more rest. Much more.
To help you get started, why not try my free gift to you: a 20-minute deep relaxation track tonight? It’ll help you feel more rested than you thought possible!
Also, did you know that one hour of reiki is the equivalent of 3-4 hours of deep sleep? Yep, just sayin’. 🙂
In the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts on refusing to rest. Are getting enough time out? Did this spark any insights for you?! Or does it still seem impossible?