To Feel Less Restless, We Need to Rest More

I’ve been excessively restless this winter. Always daydreaming about the next person or place to go adventure to.

Within a few days of my last trip to the states I was already looking at flights for my next trip. And don’t get me wrong I love travel and trying new things, but I don’t want to confuse enjoying those experiences for running away from the discomfort of stillness.

It is almost comical that I’ve been feeling this degree of stir-crazy wanderlust because in the summer I was craving stability like nobody’s business. All I wanted was a 9-5 job and weekends at the beach and some much needed consistency in my life. A schedule that I could count on and plan my life around.

So how does that so quickly turn into unease?

Discomfort with stillness can be perceived as boredom, but I don’t think it is. I think that stillness I was craving is something I still really need. Restlessness is a symptom of being so used to bouncing around like I was living inside a pinball machine since I started university in 2013 that stillness is uncomfortable.

It’s a huge adjustment to have your life stand still and not have a turn around every four months.

A theme for me in the last few months has been trying to learn to rest more. But it only recently occured to me that feeling stir crazy or restless and the need to cultivate stillness and practice self-care could be connected.

If you know anything about the enneagram, it won’t surprise you that I am a very typical two and as I was reading about personal growth recommendations for twos this week I came across this quote:

“If you are not addressing your own needs, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to meet anyone else’s needs without problems, underlying resentments, and continual frustration. Further, you will be less able to respond to people in a balanced way if you have not gotten adequate rest, and taken care of yourself properly.”

Rest is great. I think of it as a mature step to allow you to love and care for yourself, it’s necessary and it fights against the idea that we need to constantly be productive. Engaging in intentional rest allows you to recover from the things life throws your way and to build resilience for whatever is next.

But the thing that is hard about rest is it means you have to slow down. You have to let yourself be still and when you exchange restlessness for and stillness you sometimes have to deal with the shit in your head you’d rather ignore. The stress, the worries, the lingering questions or reality that you have no clue what you’re doing.

It would be a heck of a lot easier in the moment to not be still, to keep moving, to ignore those fears or insecurities or questions or hurts or whatever it is in your life. But when we do that we don’t stop and rest. And when you don’t give yourself the space to rest you burn out. You aren’t able to rebuild your spiritual, mental, emotional or physical energy.

My personal Queen, Dr. Brene Brown said in her TED Talk The Price of Invulnerability :

“We are the most addicted, the most medicated, the most obese and in-debt adult cohort in human history.

We’re numbing. And this doesn’t even include busyness. I didn’t even put the “Busy” slide up. You know, when they start having “busy” recovery meetings, you know “busy” 12-step meetings, they’ll have to rent out football stadiums. Because we just stay so busy that the truth of our lives can’t catch up.

You cannot selectively numb emotion. When we numb the dark emotion, when we numb vulnerability and fear, and the shame of not being good enough, we by default numb joy.”

The solution to restlessness isn’t more busyness and traveling and disarray but figuring out how to rest more and be okay with being still. And I’m still working on how to be okay with that.

Each season has a different purpose and a different pace. I believe deep down that God uses each moment and experience to teach and grow and stretch me.

My favourite Irish Proverb says:

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures for anything

If you don’t know where to start; have a night in with yourself, watch the funniest thing you can find on Netflix (might I suggest Brooklyn99 or Schitt’s Creek?), create space for stillness, relaxation and do your best to go to bed an extra hour early.

Don’t let the impulse of busyness or the feeling of stir-crazy restlessness keep you from resting. We are our happiest and best selves when we give ourselves the space to rest.


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