If back to school and work have left you feeling a little scattered, tense or distracted, you aren’t alone, Vixens. It’s easy to feel like there is a lot to do and not enough time to get it all done.
You don’t need us to tell you about why it is important to rest. On a physical level it allows your muscles, bones and connective tissue time to recover and rebuild, which is especially important so you can keep dancing and training sustainably. On a physiological level, it allows your energy levels to replenish and reset themselves, preventing burnout and ensuring you feel good as you move through life. And on a psychological level, it gives you the time to process and reflect on what is happening and gives you the space to figure out what you want to do next, and how.
Here are 7 ways you can start to deliberately build more time for rest into your schedule so you can get the most out of the rest of the year!
Know Yourself and Your Worth
While it runs contrary to capitalism and how we think about work and worth in the western world, you do not have to earn time and space to rest.
Relaxation is not a one-size-fits-all, so if you have tried all the conventional things (naps, baths, meditation) and find them boring, or frustrating don’t worry. You have capacity for relaxation, all you have to do is figure out what helps you feel grounded, at ease and stable in the world. Knowing what works for you, and that you deserve to relax regardless of what you have done can make it easier to build this practice into your life.
Our current world demands a lot of our attention, whether we are figuring out the best ways to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, juggling a return to public spaces, or learning about how to be better anti-racist allies. It can be easy to fall into a cycle of constantly doing, moving and working, which can eventually result in exhaustion, adrenal fatigue, or mental health concerns. Prioritizing time to rest, and deliberately selecting activities that are restorative to you can help ensure you have the resources to draw from when the world changes again.
If we believe what we’re told, relaxing will fix all of our problems, restore our health meters to 100% and ensure we can keep questing to defeat metaphorical dragons and find all sorts of treasures. But we aren’t video game characters, and the social pressure to relax and take care of ourselves can create high levels of stress and anxiety – the very opposite of what relaxation is supposed to achieve. Try taking your relaxation practice one day at a time, and do what feels appropriate in the moment instead of holding yourself to an unreasonable industrial wellness complex standard of perfect towels, candles and a bathtub of rose petals, if that isn’t your thing.
Committing to relaxation and dedicating time for it can seem especially strange in a world that encourages us to keep doing things, or else we will miss out. Hours of doomscrolling through social media is not relaxing and neither is thinking up new ideas for your side hustle. Instead, determine how you want to feel after you’ve taken the time to unplug from the world (calm, soothed, refreshed) and then block off the time, set your phone to airplane mode, and commit yourself to the activity of choice.
Deliberately choosing relaxing activities, even if it is in a series of 10 minute blocks through your week can help you protect your time and your energy. And as you schedule, be honest with yourself about what will truly help you relax. It might be a mid-afternoon nap on the weekend, or it might be a Tuesday evening conversation with a good friend. When you know what works, be sure to schedule enough time for the activity so you can completely enjoy it.
As we try to keep the lines between home, school and work from blurring little routines and rituals can be helpful to safeguard your time. Deliberately selecting a transition activity to replace a commute or other firm ending can help you differentiate between work time and relaxation time. This might include writing a “to-do” list for the next day, or taking a few minutes to pause and name what went well during the day, or purposefully closing your email browser and all of the work related apps so you can switch into play and relaxation mode.
Rest and repeat
If you find yourself struggling to rest, you aren’t alone. Deliberately resting can causes feelings of guilt, anxiety and stress. The news cycle might be making you frustrated and so you might choose to distance yourself from it. If ongoing racial injustice is triggering anger you might explore this controlled breathing and muscle relaxation technique. If you’re exhausted by the constant grind of survival you might try deliberate resting. Regularly practicing ways of resting that address what you are feeling can help make it easier to continue to rest and to find new ways to relax.
Amidst the flurry of “to-do” lists and “want to do” lists it can be difficult to carve out time to slow down and relax. This year, it might be even more so as we seek to maximize the amount of time we can spend outdoors before the cooler weather sets in. If you know you have a hard time resting, ask those your trust to help. This might mean scheduling time with them to do something that feels restful, or delegating tasks to them that free up your time, or having them run interference for you so you can take the breaks that you need.
Being deliberate about when and how you relax has a lot of positive outcomes, but it should not become a source of stress or a cause for guilt. How we rest changes with our environments and where we are at, physically, physiologically and psychologically. Please be gentle with yourselves, Vixens!