The importance of resting

Despite my OCD tendencies, I decided yesterday that I will not be posting on weekends. I realized that it will be healthier for me to blog Monday through Friday and take a break on the weekend. This is part of my greater current life journey of learning how to rest more and being more compassionate and understanding with myself, and not valuing myself based on how productive I am all the time, how much I do.

This is new for me. When I was a professor at Boston College, not only did I almost never actively “rest,” I also didn’t do “leisure.” I worked almost non-stop, except when I was sleeping. I was either working on my job, or working on my home (cooking, cleaning, housework), or working to take care of my kids, or working to take care of my body (through intense exercise). I did not spend time resting, playing, or relaxing. 

I did not believe in vacations. I told myself it was because what I was doing was all the enjoyment I needed, and that vacations were for sad people who didn’t like their jobs or daily lives enough and needed an escape. Seriously. That was what I said. It was completely unbalanced, unhealthy, and unsustainable.

And I continued like this for years, until the event that felt like my whole world was falling apart, in September 2019, when an employee filed a complaint against me, and the university suspended me in order to perform their investigation. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone at BC. At first, I was like, what the hell?! How can I just be home and not working?! How can I not be communicating with the many dozens of BC students and colleagues that I normally talk to every day? What am I supposed to DO? I thought my whole world would stop spinning if I stopped working. But it slowly dawned on me that it was okay, everything would be okay, and I would be okay too.

In October 2019, this was one of my journal entries:

I always had this idea that I had to run run run run, that I had to be productive all the time, but…I don’t. I can just sit around the house all day. And things will be okay. I can be suspended for weeks …and I’m surviving this. I have time to get a dog. Because who actually cares if I am “productive” all the time…I can go for walks. I don’t have to be an overachiever. I can just be. Just exist. Do the bare minimum to get by. And that’s okay. This is a total life paradigm shift. This experience has actually been good for me, in some ways.

Of course, just because I wrote that in my journal and just because I felt that way in that moment does not mean that the belief is fully internalized in my way of being. It’s a process, as I’m fighting decades of training that my self-worth is based on my productivity. But at least I am aware now and I am reminding myself every day that I can rest, that it is healthy to rest every day, and I can just be sometimes.

So, starting tomorrow, on the weekends, I will be resting. I hope that you take lots of time to rest too. And don’t feel guilty about it.

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