Well I’m a week into my 10 days of rest experiment and while it’s not been plain sailing it has been working. Not in a dramatically obvious way – I haven’t been suddenly bouncing out of bed feeling on top of the world (yet). But I have been less tired, waking up has been a little easier, and when a friend was telling me how exhausted she felt, I realised that actually, I don’t feel exhausted at all.
Funny isn’t it, how one late night can be felt straight away, but feeling rested is something that creeps up on you.
I’m making progress in true baby steps style, one tiny little improvement at a time. So tiny that if I didn’t pay attention, I could easily give up and tell myself that it’s not working.
And I’ve learned that rest doesn’t just come from doing nothing. In fact, it has much more to do with what’s going on inside my head than what I’m physically doing.
If you could do with creating some rest this week, here are five things that have worked for me:
1. Make a decision
It’s funny how much lingering decisions can zap your energy. Whether you’re coming up to the end of the day or the end of the year, if you’re still mulling over decisions, the chances are your brain will keep on working on it. Sometimes that’s a good thing – some of my best creative ideas have been birthed that way – but other times, it’s just plain annoying. Those are the times when perhaps I’ve been deliberating for too long. When I just need to make a decision and move on.
Do you have any of those decisions lingering round at the end of this year?
2. Park stuff
What is it about the end of the year that has everyone suddenly scrambling to get everything done? Yes it is satisfying to leave the year with that ‘done and dusted’ feeling and create space for a fresh start for the new year, but it can be just as cathartic to lighten the load – decide what can wait, park a few things, and identify where you can ‘let it go’ altogether.
As a friend posted on Facebook this week, “Here’s to only getting some of it done ;)”
3. Let someone else be in charge
If you tend to be the one making things happen all the time, I’ve found that doing something where you’re not in charge can be incredibly restful!
Yesterday was a busy day. We went for a festive run, sang carols, ate mince pies, drank mulled fruit juice, won a Christmas quiz(!) and watched a lovely retelling of the nativity story. The best thing was, I wasn’t in charge of any of it. I just showed up, joined in and enjoyed the ride.
What can you let others make happen, and just show up and enjoy, instead of doing it all yourself?
4. Wake up!
After my daughter’s cough kept us both awake until 1.15am one night, I found myself in zombie mode the next day. The temptation was to do as little a possible, to conserve energy, but I discovered that when we made the effort to wake up properly, when I put on some music and had a little dance with my daughter over lunch, it lifted me out of the tired fog and helped me to feel better, and well, more rested!
Sometimes doing something uplifting can be more restful than doing nothing. Instead of limiting the energy you spend, what can you do to give you energy?
5. Commit to getting enough rest (but don’t obsess over it!)
Setting a deadline of 11pm has definitely helped, but there have been some nights when I been so rushed to meet that deadline, it’s affected the quality of my sleep and I felt far from rested – even when I did get the hours in!
So over the past couple of nights I’ve been getting to bed for 11pm but also allowing myself to take my time, to read for half an hour, or write, brainstorm or brain dump if I felt like it. I kept the light low and avoided using screens, and found that I slept much better.
The next step of course is to bring that ‘winding down’ time forward so I get both quantity and quality, but as I said at the beginning: Baby steps – one tiny improvement at a time.
Over to you. Which of these ways of creating rest will you try this week? What would you add to this list? Whatever you decide to do, I wish you a happy and restful Christmas!