Can Rest Be Productive?
As a mom of young boys and business owner, finding time for rest can be difficult. Especially during the busy holiday season when our schedules become even fuller and the expectations on us higher.
I woke up this past Saturday with a huge "to-do" list on my mind. I knew I had to clean the bathroom, bake something for a function, pick up groceries, buy some Christmas gifts, change everyone's bedding, drop my son at a birthday party, making dinner, blah blah blah. The list goes on and on.
Instead of waking up with a heavy feeling in my chest due to everything I had to get done on my "day off", I laid in bed for a few extra minutes and set a manta for my day. My mantra was:
"Today I will do what I love and love what I do."
The simple idea of shifting my mindset to enjoying my tasks set me up for a more restful day than if I would have fought what I had to do. The act of being in the present moment can be a huge catalyst to happiness.
Sometimes I'll find myself in the midst of a task, but dreaming about what I'll do or how I'll feel once that task is complete. Do you feel that too? It's pretty natural to feel that way about doing something that you might not enjoy. But my suggestion is to try to find some joy in everything you do.
Side Story: When my second son, Bruce was born I used to be up most of the nights feeding him in his room. On the wall we had a piece of art that got me through all the tiredness and overwhelm of sustaining my newborn son. I had bought the artwork to cover up an electrical panel on the wall because it was the right size, but it turned out to be something that I cherish and remind myself of on a daily basis.
There is happiness to be found in every moment.
So can rest be productive?
The answer to that question isn't black and white. Of course we need to rest, like really rest by shutting down and shutting out all sensory stimulation. Restorative Yoga and meditation are my favourite activities for this. But there are many forms of rest that are personal to each of us. As a type-A, overachiever I feel best when I've accomplished something. I also feel best when I do things that bring me joy.
Bring Joy to What You Do
Keeping my hands busy, is part of my joy.
Making things brings me joy.
Taking care of my family and friends bring me joy.
Crossing things off my list, is part of my joy.
Here are some examples of what Productive Rest is for me...
1. Baking cookies with my sons. I've always loved baking. Around the holidays many of us bake for gifts or to bring something to a gathering. Instead of this feeling like something "I have to do" I think of it as something "I get to do" which helps baking feel restful for me. Plus I get to have fun with Bruce and Wallace which makes it even better.
2. Taking care of my plants. We have A LOT of plants in our home. They require time and energy to keep them healthy and happy. This weekend I had to trim and propagate them, wash their leaves and re-pot some. This two hour task was how I started my Saturday because having all these plants in our home brings me joy. I love seeing them thrive. Taking the time and care to wash them was a really restful process for me because I didn't rush it. I just enjoyed it.
3. Shopping. I'm a bit of a shop-a-holic so shopping for Christmas Gifts is already restful for me. I love buying special things for people I love. It makes me feel great. This weekend, we went for a walk in our neighbourhood to support local shops and artisans. How was this restful? I got outside for fresh air and exercise. I spent time with my sons. I interacted with people in my community. I didn't rush or worry. I just enjoyed the whole experience.
4. Folding laundry. Believe it or not, folding laundry can be enjoyable. It can be a type of yoga by being present in what you're doing.
5. Doing yard work or gardening. Getting your hands in soil is such a grounding experience. Trimming your plants. Raking the leaves. Even shovelling snow can all be restful if you have the right mindset.
6. Going for a night walk. I know that exercise might sound like it's the opposite of rest, but when you enjoy walking it can also be restful. You'll feel renewed after breathing in fresh air and moving your body.
For me, rest CAN be productive.
This weekend, I got a lot of things done but still feel well rested because of HOW I did things. It's important to remember that two things can be true at the same time. So yes, you can rest while being productive.
Remember to practice passive rest as well. By sitting for meditation, doing some restorative yoga poses, practicing Legs Up The Wall before bed or simply laying on the couch with no distractions. The more we allow ourselves to rest, the more we can show up for our family, friends and community.
How to make everyday tasks feel restful
- Meditation first. Start your day with a 2 - 20 minute meditation setting yourself up to be calm and aware of your internal dialogue for the day.
- Make a list of your tasks. Checking things off your list can feel rewarding.
- Do your favourite things first. Being mindful of timelines and accepting that you might not get it all done.
- Be present. Be fully immersed in each task while you're doing it.
- Smile. Telling yourself you enjoy what you're doing actually helps you enjoy what you're doing more.
- Music. Put on your favourite record or playlist. Sing along or dance your way through your daily tasks. Music has the power to make us feel all the feels.
I hope these tips help you make the most of your daily activities and inspire you to find rest where you can. Wishing you all the love and rest you need.