How many times have you felt tired, exhausted or empty, but refused to let yourself rest? How many times have you felt the need to stop, nap or simply sit, but completely ignored this need in the pursuit of completing your to do list?
With instant messaging, overflowing email inboxes, and an ever-demanding work and social schedule, there’s always something to be done, finished, achieved or improved upon. Rest is a dirty word, slowing down is for the weak, and not getting enough sleep earns coveted badges of honour.
Whilst we may be advancing as a society in leaps and bounds in terms of scientific discoveries, technological inventions and the ability to communicate across thousands of miles at the touch of a button, we’re moving backwards when it comes to overall honest health and wellbeing. We’re moving backwards when it comes to contentment, stillness, quietness and self-acceptance. We’re moving backwards when it comes to listening to our innate needs and responding to them appropriately and naturally.
When I say we, of course I’m referring to a very generalised and Westernised version of the population. Maybe you allow yourself stillness and recuperation, maybe you know yourself, your mind and body, and what they require. The thing is however, many people don’t, and they’re usually the ones running things (by ‘things’ I mean the big governmental decisions, things like the use of sustainable energy sources and law changes, and the highly-strung type-A personalities verging on the edge of a breakdown). I don’t write this to say those people are doing something wrong; rather, I write this so you’ll read it and be able to educate and advise others and make a positive change in your corner of the world.
Hormonal issues, problems with digestion, mood swings, and a feeling of being ‘not good enough’ on a day-to-day basis are what women are expertly practiced at. We experience these sensations so often that we accept them as an inevitable part of life. We acknowledge
feelings of fatigue, bloating and brain fog, yet we don’t stop them (or don’t really know how to without Googling). We intuitively know that what we really need is a diet of whole, natural foods and healthy fats, a lot of sleep and a balance between movement and stillness, creativity and receptivity, but there’s ‘no time’ for that. Instead, we continue making ourselves feel ill and tired by using coffee to stimulate, sugar to perpetuate, alcohol to dull and medication to sleep.
In 2018, sitting on the sofa and doing ‘nothing’ isn’t allowed… we’re constantly told how sitting is killing us, of ‘couch potatoes’, and that we need to get those 10-15,000 steps in per day (plus your high-intensity exercise class, Yoga class, lunch meeting, full time job and family commitments). The moment we sit – as speaker, author, TCM & Ayurvedic practitioner and self-proclaimed student of life Dr. Claudia Welch puts it – we get the ‘hidden camera syndrome’; the feeling someone is watching us. If someone were to enter the room, she says, it’s very likely we’d pick up a book or magazine, or pretend we’re in the middle of a very important meditation. Being productive and constructive instead of just being you.
That morning meditation or first Yoga class of the day (or any other ‘stress-busting’ tool you might implement to sustain your wellbeing) is often used as a sort of ‘remedy’. Many of us use things like this as emotional stress relief, or to manage a stressful and busy life (or mind). The thing is however, if we only ever do the morning meditation or the one Yoga class (per day / week / month), we stay in a cycle of temporarily keeping the stress at bay – a little like an aspirin for modern life. The effects are indeed powerful and they do the job – but they’re pretty temporary. Insert an afternoon or evening practice however (and by practice I mean something like simply journaling, meditating for ten minutes, or mentally listing what you’re grateful for) and our consciousness a chance to go deeper, to change habits and patters for a second time that day. Instead of simply holding off the stress, we banish it in the morning, and then start to move even further away from it later in the day. In other words, we start to do the real work on ourselves, the type that leads to realisation and actual life enhancement.
Claudia Welch speaks of this beautifully yet incredibly practically. She explains how we can become ‘drained’ of energy, and that one practice a day is simply a way of minimally topping up our energy levels, like a phone dangerously close to running out of charge and becoming useless. If however, we use a second daily practice, we take ourselves out of the ‘red’ (i.e. the warning light that we’re pretty much running on empty) and we start to really power ourselves up. We start to give ourselves more power than we may even have felt for years. This is why the Transcendental Meditation practice happens twice a day. The morning sets you up, and the afternoon allows you to go deeper and make a real change.
Being Tired Is Natural
‘Men come to rest through action, women come to action through rest’ – Dr. Claudia Welch, MSOM
The amount of pills and potions on the market to ‘combat tiredness’, ‘fight fatigue’ and basically allow us to pretend we’re super human and that we have no need to sleep is astonishing. Along with ‘anti-ageing’ cosmetics, energy-enhancing supplements are big business, and it’s not just women who want to (or feel the need to) ignore their needs and keep going. Business men and inventors, male scientists and entrepreneurs in silicon valley are obsessed with biohacking; that is – hacking your body’s natural human biology in order to get more done and be more ‘productive’.
Saying #sorrynotsorry To Resting & Recharging
When we’re tired, mood levels deteriorate rapidly, insulin resistance is compromised, and our ability to transform food to energy (and therefore action in the world) basically disappears. Adrenal glands work overtime, and eventually we stop living and loving life and simply try to get through the day. So, what would happen if we stopped obsessing over fitting into clothes one size smaller, stopped trying to look like what we assume is ‘perfect’, stopped trying to win the productivity prize, the best mum award, or the medal of honour for hiding all insecurities and holding it together emotionally, physically, socially, mentally? What if we stopped trying to be anything other than the most raw and honest, natural version of ourselves?
What if, instead, we listened when our bodies asked us to say ‘no’ to that night out, ‘yes’ to the extra hour in bed, ‘no’ to the unreasonable requests of managers or even family members, and ‘yes’ to a long walk in the fresh air, an hour of time for ourselves, the extra helping of chocolatey cake, the guilt-free glass of wine, or even a moment of sitting on the sofa and doing ‘nothing’. Except you wouldn’t be doing ‘nothing’, you’d be accepting and honouring the way you honestly felt in that moment, respecting your needs (and yourself), taking one small step for the individual you, and a giant leap for the wellbeing of busy women and their ability to be unapologetically tired. You’d be inspiring younger generations to empower themselves and listen to their natural human needs, rather than persevering with an unsustainable schedule on an unsustainable planet.
As a result, you’d be improving your tolerance, patience, energy levels, and therefore your relationships, physical health, mental health, emotional wellbeing, improving your overall productivity and creativity, and your capacity to say an enthusiastic yes to life. You’d essentially be able to get more done by sometimes doing what might look a lot like ‘nothing’. Here’s to sleep, here’s to rest, here’s to actually listening to your body. Here’s to doing you. #sorrynotsorry