A Halt to the Hustle: Focusing on Rest Instead of the Grind
New Year, Better Rested Me.
The first time I wound up in the hospital I could feel my heart beating a million miles per second. Pain crawling from my chest into my arms, and then down into my fingertips.
I told the ER nurse, "Chest pain. Getting worse." Seems to be the magic wand of sentences around there, skipped the line, and in we went to a small room without any windows or doors.
She closed the curtains around us and read over my chart, whispering to herself.
"EKG. Going to start hooking you up, okay?" She asks while beginning the task anyways. It wasn't my first one, or last.
The next 14months were spent with burning chest pain, and too many ER visits.
"Rest this weekend." I remember a Doctor saying to me. "Truly rest, sleep in, take a nap, lounge around, meditate. Stop working."
With a gruelling headache and an uneasy heartbeat, I agreed. I would try to "relax" whatever that meant in my hectic schedule.
At first I found it difficult.
I could not be still, relax, or lay down. My mind was on a rampage, and I began to wonder how much of the "hustle" in my life was really an attempt to escape the complete chaos in my mind.
So I figured I would take up the Doc's advice, and try a little meditation. After all, I used to love yoga. So I found one that was 11minutes long. Do-able, right?
How could it be that I couldn't sit still for 10minutes without going completely bizurque. My anxiety was at an all-time high, and this was not going well. Still, I sat there.
Frustrated; but I remained seated. Breathing. After about minute, I don't know, seven let's say, my mind quieted just slightly enough for me to hear my own breathe. I listened to it. Rise and fall.
Then the bell went. It was over. I did it. (Sort of.)
That sad attempt to meditate and relax, ultimately inspired me to try again the next day. And that's the secret really, ain't it? Just to start; not to be successful, but to see where it takes you. It's progress. Over perfection.
The next 6months I meditated. For 11 minutes a day.
I'm not here to preach the benefits of mediation because anyone who doesn't live under a rock probably knows it's good for you, but to experience the benefits because of my commitment to it - that was game changing.
I realized that the only way I was going to find honest, and adequate rest was to build it into my day to day life.
Through intentional habits that benefited my state of mind, and the state of my nervous system. Meditation was just one example of how I started to integrate rest into my schedule, and over time it became second nature to sink into these coping mechanisms when I felt burn-out start to present itself.
Making a Space to Rest, Really Rest.
That was my goal, to create a luxurious and inviting space that said, "Hey, want to rest here awhile?" I figured that was my best bet if I wanted to spend more time focused on relaxing (and enjoying it.)
It starts with bedding, my friends. Honestly! If you gift yourself a good night's sleep - everyone's winning. So I got myself a new set of sheets and a throw blanket that begged me to sink into it each night.
When it was time to go to sleep, I was actually excited. My bed felt like a cloud. Next up, the lighting.
I hopped on amazon to find some ambient light fixtures for my room, something bright and mood soothing. I ended up going with a few neon signs, and LED strip lights to line my walls with aura inspiring colours.
Simple, and cheap. But effective, and uplifting.
That was my new goal, simple solutions that didn't stress me out, and in fact added value to my space. I began to invite little things into my life that didn't make a huge difference, but ultimately added up.
A Break from the Bluelight
I'll admit, as someone who works online I bounce from my phone, to my ipad, to my laptop quickly and often.
That's a lot of bluelight. Bluelight from electronics is linked to problems like blurry vision, eyestrain, dry eye, macular degeneration, cataracts, and a lot more. Some people have sleep problems too.
Blue light can also damage your retinas. Animal studies show even short exposure can be harmful. A filter that cuts 94% of blue light has been shown to lessen the damage.
So I picked up a few pairs of bluelight glasses, wore them when working, and committed to max 4hour work days.
My brain felt so much better, headaches faded, and I began to feel very productive. By cutting myself off at 4hours working I found I didn't waste as much time, stayed more focused through my tasks, and enjoyed my free time a lot more!
These little steps towards more rest for my body and mind, began to change my life in small yet impactful ways.
I started to write down my new habits, and which ones made me feel the best. I journaled my days, and tracked my mood.
I began to see an upward climb in my overall health, and that was extremely motivating
I hadn't even began to focus yet on the basics: good nutrition and exercise. I had simply started adding a few habits that felt good and now with a newfound sense of motivation I was ready to treat my body to more healthful choices.
As time moved on, I began to be more conscious when shopping, choosing for my body instead of my tastebuds. And I began to incorporate a quick morning walk, just around the block.
At this point, I knew that healthy habits paid off.
So I was willing to be in temporary discomfort (like this morning walking in -25 weather) because keeping up healthy habits was an easy way to be healthy.
Today, I don't spend time with my favourite ER nurse anymore. I have proper meds, a good diet, a consistent means of exercise, a sound and solid sleep at night, on top of a calm healthy nervous system achieved through breathe work and commitment.
Hustle culture doesn't sleep...
I on the other hand, now very much enjoy my sleep.
Life is not a race, nor is there a prize for the first one to their deathbed. In the end, we all have time and choices. That's it.
Before, I was speeding through my life. Task after task. Achievement after achievement. Constantly in a flight for instant gratification.
I lived for the wonder of "What is she going to do next?"
Nothing. Sorry to disappoint. If you need me, I'll be resting.
In my fresh sheets, with a warm drink, and the lights twinkling above me. Maybe tomorrow I'll do something spectacular, maybe not.
But tonight, I'm putting a halt to the hustle.
To focus on rest, instead of the grind.