3 Ways to R-E-S-T This Holiday Season

The holidays are already in full swing.  The bustle is BUSTLING.  A seemingly simple trip to get toilet paper feels like a weird dystopian future where you gotta have your energetic boundaries up and on high alert - and maybe even need to have a few elbows at the ready.

Despite the slower energy the winter time typically offers, the holiday season usually seems to ramps things up, in one way or another. We may feel like we have a mountain of things to do - and live up to.  It can be overwhelming.  Throw in a healthy chance of catching a cold - and, well, rest is pretty important. 

(adding in other layers like: holiday travel? negotiating challenging or triggering family dynamics? grieving and missing loved ones? all of these realities, and so many others, can add to challenges of this season. and absolutely call for finding moments of rest wherever we can connect with them)

What is rest exactly?  There's lots of talk about self care these days, but not always about rest.  Rest is the precursor to self care.  Without it, we can't engage in self care.  And many of us are running on a "rest debt," which makes recharging that much more necessary.  Rest is simple in the technique, and (typically) more complicated in the intention/execution.  You don't need anymore time or money than you already have (WE PROMISE) and it takes an extra level of care to engage with mindfully.

And just like self care and healing - there is no one right way to heal - and not every technique works for everyone.  What leaves me feeling recharged is not universal.  Of course, sleep is rest, and that's pretty universal.  And, there are a lot of factors that impact our ability to sleep. As someone who regularly negotiates anxiety-impacted sleep, a question I am trying to incorporate into my sleep routine is, “what can I do to ensure the best sleep possible with the resources (i.e. time, things that help you sleep, realities, etc) that I have?”* 

With rest, there may not be many universal truths, but there are a few good rules of thumb. 1) An element of stillness - try avoiding screens and too much sensory stimuli. 2) There’s often an element of being alone, or at least not actively or subconsciously tending to others/external things. 3) The most important thing with rest is to connect with the ways that leave you feeling recharged. 

3 Holiday Season Inspired Ideas for Resting

1) Get a nice hot cup of champurrado (or hot chocolate or tea or hot water with lemon) and hold it tight in your hands. Take a moment to feel the warmth against your palms.  Take three comfortably-full breaths, taking in the vapor on each inhale.  If it feels good and safe, you can close your eyes while you do this.

2)  Get under your favorite blanket (the soft one, the fuzzy one, the heated one, the weighted one, etc., etc.) before you go to bed, and ask yourself - what is the coziest position I can make for myself right now?  And try it out! Try it for 10 seconds. 30 seconds. Or as long as you are able.  I'm imagining curling into a fetal position and tucking the blanket right up under my chin and giving all the muscles in my body a tight squeeze, and then releasing them.

3) Gift yourself with the permission to rest.  It's the season of giving, after all, and you know the drill - you can't pour from an empty cup.  Maybe even literally write your name down on your gift list with the words, "I give myself permission to rest."  Sometimes one of the things hindering our access to rest are the internalized or societal beliefs we hold (or feel subjected to standards of) around productivity, value, and worthiness.  You are worthy of rest.  You are deserving of rest.

What would you add, dear ones?

Even rest is complicated and political. Having access to rest is a level of privilege. The suggestions above assume certain realities for the reader and what they have access to. As I write this, I keep thinking about legislation in Denver called “Right to Rest,” which aims to establish basic rights for those experiencing homelessness in Denver - from being able to be in public spaces without harassment (or with less…) and to be able to rest in public spaces. It has been voted down four years in a row, and with camping bans and increased harassment of the homeless population (sweeps, tickets + arrests, taking belongings, etc.) the right to rest has not just been taken away, it’s also being criminalized. You can learn more through Denver Homeless Out Loud

* Inspired/paraphrased/adapted from a question posed by Roe of Brown Kids on the Black Girl in Om Podcast, January 2018

Michelle CastorComment