Updated: Sep 15
I heard a great saying the other day Yogis:
"Rest & work are two sides of the same coin"
Our well-being, resting & recharging, is the foundation for everything else that we do.
The same person went on to say that it is backward thinking to wait til we're wrecked, to keep going til we're at almost burnout levels of exhaustion before taking a break.
That break could be taking a proper actual lunch-break (not the horrid unhygienic hunched-over keyboard sandwich).
It could be leaving work ON TIME (which, guess what, is not "leaving early").
It could heading away for the weekend or taking a long postponed but longed-for vacation.
The important mental shift to note is that we don’t need to “EARN IT”.
We do not benefit or do well in our work or personal lives if we habitually push on through, over multi-task, & work overtime to the point that it becomes our "usual hours".
Yes, there are acute situations, short-term necessary-on-occasion extra efforts, which we all need to make from time to time. Both at work and in our personal lives.
But not all the time, on an ongoing basis.
Overdoing it is now finally getting some much needed attention, even in the modern work sphere. I read a Times piece just yesterday about a work "85-15% rule".
Hey if it works for Hugh Jackman, it'll work for us mere mortals eh 😉.
"Giving it only 85% is key to avoiding burnout — just ask Hugh Jackman
If employees work slightly below their limit they can avoid exhaustion and focus on optimisation
Basically, 100% effort, 100% of the time is BS Yogis!
Our work actually will ironically suffer (presentee-ism is NOT productivity).
Our health will suffer.
Our relationships will suffer too.
All for the sake of what? Visibility? Status? Making ourselves feel important or indispensable?
A balanced work-life needs us alert, engaged, aware, even literally awake!
So too does a balanced home-life & healthy lifestyle.
Too much of any one thing - whether that's work, or being online, or just focussing on our spouse/immediate family & not our friendships, wider family, neighbours, community & our environment - is not going to help us feel our best.
To feel interested in life, to feel like there's a point & a purpose to our existence, not just drudgery & deadlines. To bolster our resilience.
We need joy. Awe. Fun. Connection. Time in Nature.
Not just paying the bills & having someone silently slumped on the couch beside us, zombie-watching Netflix til 1:00am, in what is now called 'revenge sleep procrastinating' (yes, it's a real thing!).
Active Rest gives us this. And we need a 'varied diet' here in our Active Rest lives, just like good healthy nutrition relies upon a varied diet.
Have a rest portfolio. Both kinds: quiet alone time occasionally, even for you extroverts & doable social fun time, even for those introverts amongst us.
Active rest usually means a combination of more effortful pastimes (like say the gym).
AND calmer accessible ones (like say coffee & people-watching).
The arts, volunteering, meditating, getting out in Nature, hikes, hanging out with friends, practising Yoga, having deliberate scheduled blank times in our diaries (that is, not always being over-booked or too busy). To read a book, be quiet, to potter.
This is not an exhaustive or even comprehensive list - rest & play are highly personal.
And they very much need to be adapted to where we are in life & how we’re feeling & doing right now.
Fine tune your awareness.
Through our Yoga practice, we cultivate the power of awareness. And learning this on the mat helps us off the mat too.
So, notice the routines, times and/or common occasions & situations when you feel energised & uplifted versus depleted & anxious. These are good clues for us, helping us discern what we need and when, what we need more of and less of.
Do big crowds drain you or give you a buzz?
Does a run (generally) wreck you or make you feel like you’ve had a great reset?
Do you usually nod off with boredom at the movies, no matter the film, or feel entranced & really caught up in the story unfolding on the big screen?
Does live music fill you with joy or drive you nuts? Do you prefer to spin some vinyl at home?
I recently joined my local Tidy Towns.
It hits a number of 'Active Rest' high notes for me.
It's social without being overly social. I'm near & around people, but toddling along, picking up trash & maybe occasionally having the chats with my Tidy Towns 'buddy' or neighbours & passersby.
It's outside so I'm getting fresh air. And exercise!
It's volunteering & helping the community so it's good for my mental health & as my Tidy Town buddy says, good for the soul.
Side-note: The conclusion I came to a good while ago (partly precipitating my departure from social media - that decision was multi-factoral) is that, for my head, for my mental health - better to get out there & DO SOMETHING rather than whinge on social media, feel sad or angry but achieve nothing. There's just so much negativity & anxiety out there online Yogis. I really just don't need or want it in my life, even if it means 'missing out' on some good stuff.
And finally, with the Tidy Towns session - well, it's just an hour so it doesn't take too long. And it's local so it doesn't involve hassle or big time commitments to get there & back.
As we head into Autumn proper, over the next week or so, maybe have a think about different doable ways you can incorporate some 'Active Rest' into your life.
And head into the winter ahead with a better sense of balance, and maybe even feeling like you're enjoying life that little bit more.
If you feel like having a lovely pre-Winter relaxation & practice boost, sign up for our mid-November ✨ "Be Here Now Weekend Yoga Retreat"✨. Check it out here.
Yoga Lili ✨🙏🏽