Remember to rest

Remember to rest

Aug 08, 2022

Photo by Aaron Lee in Unsplash

{Photo description: On the right side, an arm stretches out from a yellow canoe, and the hand touches the water very gently, with only a couple of fingers touching it. In the background, you see the paddle and behind a cliff, both out of focus.}


In the last few days, maybe weeks, most of the consultations have gone in the same direction, the need to acknowledge fragility and fatigue. In a society that only values us if we are productive, it is hard to give ourselves permission to disconnect, to rest, and to restore ourselves from life's inevitable clashes.

And yet, we are hungover and grieving. We are hungover from two years of a pandemic that turned our lives upside down and brought us a new experience of uncertainty and impotence. And we are grieving the life we had before 2020, and that is no more. But we cannot stop, and we keep pushing ourselves to the limit of our strength, and sometimes beyond.

It's no accident that we are beginning to see mental health receiving a very well deserved attention. Productivity is not sustainable if it is at the expense of our physical or mental well-being. If, in order to achieve that productivity, we have to compromise our needs for rest, for food, or for security.

On top of this false and misrepresented notion of productivity, we have nurtured an abusive society that values arrogance, and rewards those who are already in a position of privilege. The ones that were left behind on the path that would take us towards the supposed success were the people who, because of their vulnerability and the lack of social support, were not as productive, as quick or as available.

And here we are, after two years of pandemic. After two years of insecurity and hyper-attention, after two years of being permanently alert and looking for new solutions to problems with which we have never dealt before. Here we are, frail and tired, but thinking that—because we have now got rid of the masks—we are the same people we were in 2019. Thinking that we can keep running, that we need to be active, and that if we don't generate our share, we are not fulfilling our existence.

Over time I have learned to value fragility, vulnerability, and rest. These are topics that come up often in consultation, but almost always wrapped up in guilt and frustration. But rest, as well as darkness and silence, are essential. There is an important part of life that happens there. There is where we regulate ourselves, rebalance ourselves, and restore our vitality.

To you I'll say what I've been telling clients, what I've been telling close friends, and what I told myself a few months ago:

This fragility that you are feeling, that lowers your tolerance and shrinks your boundaries, is not going away if you ignore it, nor is it a fatality that will stick with you forever and ever. It's just a sign that you are pushing yourself beyond your capacity and you need to stop.

I know that out there life goes on, that there are demands and obligations that we can't ignore, but what I want to say to you is,

Remember to rest.

That's it.

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