Friday, October 16, 2015

The Art of Truly Resting

TRULY resting & enjoying nature on my back deck
I had a hectic week here and am still not fully recovered from my crash due to bronchitis that began at the end of August - still struggling with the resultant flare-up of yeast overgrowth and my stamina is still not back up to my normal baseline. Wednesday, I had a haircut and then stopped in to see my father-in-law for a 5-minute visit...that turned into an hour when the elevator in his building was taken out of service! And yesterday, I took him to an emergency dentist appointment at 12:30. I would normally never schedule any appointment after noon (that's nap time!), but this was urgent (his crown had come out) and was supposed to be quick but turned into a 2-hour oral surgery. By the time he was done, I knew I was in trouble - felt just awful. In fact, I'd been just about to lie down on the tiny couch in the waiting room when he came out. I still had to get him and then me back home. I finally got up from my late nap at 5 pm and felt horrible and felt even worse this morning.

As usual, I had plans today - things that needed to get done: bills to pay, college visits to schedule, writing deadlines, and medical insurance claims to file. But, by the time I had breakfast, I knew I was in no shape to do all that. I did a few urgent things while lying on the couch with my laptop and then made a decision to "really rest."

This was a momentous occasion for me. I have a terrible time truly resting and setting aside the need to be productive. There is just always so much to do, and I am always behind. But I have learned from hard experience that resting is more than just lying down. For me, truly resting means reading a book, watching TV or a movie, meditating, or actually napping - all while lying flat, of course, with feet elevated. Bonus points for lying outside on my deck, among the trees, birds, and blue sky - I find nature so soothing and rejuvenating.

When I am not feeling well but not at my worst - maybe a 3 or a 4 on my scale of 5 - I have a tendency to still keep pushing myself. I lie on my back on the couch with my feet up, but I still have my laptop open and still try to get things done. I know, though, from years of experience, that that's not truly restful. I know that if I spend all morning on the laptop - even while lying down - that I will not feel better by lunchtime but probably worse. On a typical day, I really only truly relax in the evening, after 7 pm (I do have a hard and fast rule to put the laptop away by 7 pm), when my husband and I watch two TV shows together and then go to bed to read for an hour before lights out.

One time last month during my severe crash - just one time! - I gave in and completely "took a day off," setting aside the laptop and the to-do list and truly resting. I watched two old favorite 80's movies - Dirty Dancing and Flashdance (feel good movies) - and read on my deck. I felt so much better for it!

I know I need to do that more often, but I find it so difficult. I know intellectually that to keep working (even on my back), to keep my mind working, is not truly restful. But it is still a difficult thing for me to do - to give in completely.

So, I did it again today. By 9:30 am, I set aside the laptop and finished watching a movie I started earlier this week. Then, I lay in my chair on our deck in the fall sunshine and read my novel. After that, I had an early lunch and enjoyed an episode of Gilmore Girls, then went upstairs to meditate and take my nap. Now that's resting. And do you know what? By the time I went up for my nap, I felt a lot better already.

I don't know why it takes extreme circumstances to finally force me to to truly rest. I know my body needs it. I'm a smart person - I should have figured this out by now, after 13 years of illness. But I still find it very difficult to completely give in and give up on being productive.

Am I the only one who has this problem? Do others find it hard to truly rest and relax? How do you rest? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


ana said...

So true! So tough! Afternoons with some recorded TV shows have been a boon to me. Such a difference to my mood and to my energy.
I feel for you with the medical appointment story. Our first close to home grandchild born this year has provided plenty of energy challenges for me. I so want to be involved, but it so often balloons into an exhausting experience, both carrying her and keeping up the stamina that a baby requires. But the joy is indescribable!
Thanks again for your excellent post.

Sue Jackson said...

I couldn't get by without my afternoon nap, Ana! That is one but of rest that is sacred to me, even if I have trouble resting otherwise.

Sorry to hear about your new challenges but thrilled to hear of this new joy in your life!! I so understand. At my sickest, I would dread family gatherings, but then my little niece & nephew would run up and give me hugs and immediately brighten my outlook! I loved reading to them and cuddling on the couch. Enjoy!

Unknown said...

It took me a long time to realize that truly resting meant lying down, eyes closed, no music or meditation music (no voices), and no stimulus like TV, Internet, or FB. If my mind raced, let it race. It will eventually race at a lower speed, which is the point.

Sue Jackson said...

Yes, me, too, Beatrice. Yesterday during my nap, my mind was racing - couldn't get to sleep. Almost gave up and got up after 40 minutes but stuck with it...and finally fell asleep! Wouldn't have gotten thru the rest of the day without that.