Rest is a Basic Need

I came across this quote recently:

I had a therapist who once told me “If you don’t schedule a break, your body will take one for you. And it probably won’t be a convenient time.”’ Sara Shonfeld

It resonated, and reminded me of Dr Brené Brown’s concept of ‘stockpiling’ and Gabor Maté’s book ‘When the Body says no.’ All are talking to the same thing. No matter who you are and what you do, rest is a priority, and one way or another your body will force you to take it. 

Burn out is our body and nervous system’s way of telling us it’s time to stop. Illness in most cases is the body saying its time to take a break. And we all know how frustrating it is when illness comes on the day we’ve got something exciting planned. 

It is vital we prioritise rest, and down time, and breaks. 

By rest, of course I mean holidays, of which I hope most readers of the blog are on or due to take soon. But perhaps more importantly, I mean regular short breaks. Opportunities to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, to give the body a moment to just be.

Most of us don’t really know what rest looks like. We’re encouraged to see it as those times when we are having a few glasses of wine or watching tv (no judgement – I do plenty of both!) But whilst such activities are a break from the hectic day to day, they’re not actually deeply relaxing, our bodies still need to work to process them. We are sold the story that to consume is to relax and rest, whereas actually it’s the much simpler things that actually allow our bodies and nervous systems to relax. 

Being in nature is a place and way to rest, meditation is a way to rest, deep breathing is a way to rest, dancing like no-one’s watching is a way to rest (even though it’s active), and similarly yoga is a way to rest. Journaling, gratitude, reading, walking… all such simple activities are beautiful ways to heal the mind, body and soul, and most of them don’t cost anything. 

At Bird we’re on a mission to see things change, particularly in the UK, around how we approach life and work, how we balance our human-doing-ness and our human-being-ness. Many of our European neighbours have a much better balance, and I think we could really learn a few things from them. Life isn’t about being busy, it’s about being at peace as much as possible. Once we have our basic needs met, the next priority should be rest. 

Food, security, community, and rest. 

For our ongoing wellbeing, and the wellbeing of our teams and communities, let’s commit to rest as a priority.

With love as always, Hannah and Team Bird

Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

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