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I Don't Know Who Needs To Hear This But: You Need To Rest

The time you spend scrolling through Twitter? Not as relaxing as you think.
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In my line of work, I am online longer than most people. Seeing what people are talking about, trying to understand what they’re interested in—a lot of it revolves around scrolling through different social media platforms. As a result, when I “take a break” and move away from my laptop, I still find myself mindlessly checking my phone. And for the longest time, I counted that as a “relaxing” activity because even though I was still online, at least I didn’t have to be as responsive or as attentive as I’d normally be.

YOU NEED TO REST:

But when the pandemic hit and the options for unwinding were limited to just one place (home), I realized that it’s not just about the amount of time you spend “relaxing,” it’s about the quality of relaxation you get. In my case, reading the news, looking for leads, and being afraid of missing trends, even while I was lying in bed—these contributed to my stress. When I did this over the weekend, for example, it made me feel like I was working seven days a week, like I never actually got to rest. For those who aren’t in media, the equivalent would be randomly checking your inbox after you time out, or answering a work call in the middle of Saturday brunch, or reading Twitter fights right before you go to bed. These things add up—and they all take away from your relaxation.

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So if like me, you suck at relaxing, here are a few tips that remind me to chill when I don’t realize that I’m doing something stressful.

Ask yourself this: What truly relaxes you?

Because relaxation isn’t the same for everyone: It’s not always a day in the spa or a really good yoga session or even sipping a drink by the beach. The first step to truly feeling rested is knowing what it is that clears your head and makes you feel grounded. For years, I tried to enjoy a massage, thinking it should have the same effect on me as it does other people—that is, until I admitted to myself that I don’t like to be touched by strangers. I accepted that and began my search for what calms my mind.

When you try an activity that’s meant to relax you, ask yourself the following questions: How do I feel after I do this? Do I feel refreshed? Did that ease my stress?

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Commit to rest.

Do not take a vacation leave and then half-ass your down time by thinking about work or doing work tasks you’ve been meaning to cross off your to-do list. People are guilty of doing this all the time—myself included. For me, I turned something I loved into a side hustle. And while I do consider it a form of “escape,” it no longer fully relaxes me because it is now technically a job (even though it still makes me happy). So I had to look for something new to ease my stress. Find something that intentionally makes you happy so you aren’t just trying to pass the time (and spending most of your leave on social).

Schedule your down time.

Most people think: I’ll rest when I’m done with work. But guess what? You won’t be *done* until you retire, and you certainly can’t wait that long before you relax. Waiting until you “deserve” a break is also unhealthy, so if you have to set an alarm to chill for 20 minutes in the afternoon, then do that. And in that period of time, allow yourself to forget all your responsibilities because your to-do list will still be there after 20 minutes, trust me.

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Stop thinking you need to accomplish so much just to be able to rest.

I’m super guilty of this. I sometimes feel like I don’t have the time to relax or shouldn’t take a break because there’s still so much left to do. So, I turn relaxation into a reward—“when I finish this, I’ll take that nap!” But I can’t think of the last time I actually crossed everything off my to-do list, which means I rarely get to rest (and end up working too much). And when I do finally sleep or take a break, guilt creeps in and reminds me that I’m not done with work. It’s a vicious, counterproductive cycle!

These are the simple ways I make sure I get enough rest during the day or over the weekend. Not everything needs to revolve around productivity. Do this for you.

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YOU NEED TO REST:

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