“So are you going to take some time off around the Fourth of July holiday?” my husband asked recently. I stopped and paused. There were a couple of vacations planned in the spring that got canceled due to COVID and I just worked through them.
My husband went on, “I mean, you haven’t really stopped to take a vacation since December.” I was struck. He was right. When our vacation plans canceled, I didn’t stop or rest or take a couple of days off; I just kept pushing.
Rest is something we have a funny relationship with—and by we, I mean those of us with high functioning anxiety, women, Americans, and/or those of us with really loud mongers.
There are a lot of messages from our culture, our families, and ourselves not just against rest but pro work. Pro pushing. Pro productivity.
We all know rest is needed. I am not going to lecture you on the importance of rest because the number one thing my new clients say is, “I need a break. I need rest.”
It isn’t that we don’t value rest; it’s that when we take a rest, our Monger goes crazy. My Monger can be so loud you would think I was committing a felony by lying in bed mid-afternoon reading a book.
This inability to give ourselves rest is a problem. No, it is a crisis. Because we have lost touch with ourselves.
We are so good at pushing that we don’t even notice our body’s physical sensations to stop. We can push past a headache or a backache or indigestion. In fact, I have had several clients who ignored and hustled through physical pain to the point where it resulted in extended hospital stays.
Here is a cycle:
A couple things I want to point out about this cycle:
The problem is we forsake ourselves. We are not machines. We are beings with thoughts, feelings, reactions, vulnerabilities, shame, mistakes, wins, celebrations, love. We are messy.
If I asked you if you would rather be perceived as a machine or as a kind, soft, loving, vulnerable human being, I think it is safe to say you would prefer being the latter.
And yet, because of our wiring, because of cultural messages, because of genetics, traumas, etc., we forsake ourselves and end up acting more like machines.
We get bogged down in our to-do list. When we have big dreams we want to create, systemic changes we want to make, major issues we want to address, and injustices we want to fight. We can only fight those bigger battles and make those systemic changes when we are rested.
And yes, even now in the midst of all the upheaval, injustices, and protesting. When the call is loud to make a change and we want to answer that call. We still need to rest. We can’t push-push-push through everything. Rest provides a chance to see a bigger picture, listen to our internal wisdom, make a plan, set deeper priorities.
Back to my conversation with my husband, I said, “I guess I can take a staycation the week before the 4th of July.” Notice the hesitancy.
For the record, staycations haven’t worked in the past. I needed the forced distance from my life to quiet my Monger enough to rest.
Here is how staycations have gone in the past:
I knew I had to do this week differently. I started with two goals.
So here are my parameters:
Looks good, right? I have set parameters and made goals—I am such a good little High Functioning Anxiety individual.
But here is the rub: parameters and goals are great, but they won’t protect me from my Monger. She will still be whispering in my ear, “Be a good girl and just check your email” or my BFF in reaction to my Monger shaming me for not doing enough will say, “Go ahead, just turn on the TV to see what is on.”
So I made one more commitment—and you might be able to guess what it is… I made a commitment to be extra kind to myself this week. Because for those of us with High Functioning anxiety, rest is messy and it is uncomfortable.
So I am committing to being kind to myself when:
I commit to practicing A.S.K. and listening for the voice of my Biggest Fan saying, “Sweet-pea, you are not a machine. To fight the fights you want to fight and create the changes you want to create, you have to rest.”
Sometimes we are so afraid of taking imperfect action and doing it wrong that we simply don’t bother at all. My guest on the podcast this week is an expert in doing it differently. Jennifer Louden is a personal growth pioneer, best-selling author, and educator, who recently wrote a book on exactly this topic.
Listen to the full episode here to hear why Jennifer was inspired to write her new book and how she realized that holding her mistakes close was actually holding her back.