Step 7: Cultivating Play and Rest; Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

Many of us are taught from a young age to always be on the go. It starts in childhood with involvement in after school activities or sports, then moves into adulthood with college, internships, relationships, and even get-togethers. There is nothing wrong with being productive, achieving or being on the go. There is, however, a big problem with doing these things ALL OF THE TIME.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to rest? Like truly rest? If you are like most women you will have a difficult time answering this. Usually it takes us running ourselves into the ground until we are sick–physically having to rest to get better. Even a bad cold doesn’t stop many of us and we continue to push through. My running joke when I get sick is that I can power through with “Red Bull and Dayquil.” We know this is unhealthy, we know we should slow down yet we keep going.

There are small decisions and moments that we need to start paying attention to regularly. The decision to pick up our phone rather than meditating or really engaging with someone else. Saying no to playing with our kids because we are trying to do all the things. Not making time for some of our dearest friends or family for months, sometimes even years because we are too “busy”.

Being busy is not a status symbol. It means we have too much on our plate and we are likely barely staying afloat. For me I try to remove self-judgment when I decide to take a nap rather than do laundry or return emails. I have been looking more for opportunities to do things just because they are fun, not because I have to do them or “should” do them.

Many times this requires us to actually schedule in time to do this. Our schedules should reflect our goals and values. I recently heard an idea to go back through your schedule from this last year and “audit” where you actually spent your time. I think we could all benefit from some reflection around this.

Like I’ve said before we are one of the most addicted, overweight, and overmedicated countries in the world. One of the simplest things we can do is slow down and making time for play and rest. These are moment-by-moment decisions, so start creating more intention to really slow down and enjoy the present.

*Brene Brown is the creator of the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living*