Amidst the exhaustion and burdens of our daily lives, the mere mention of the word “rest” can be as refreshing as a gentle breeze on a scorching summer day, but also as elusive as a mirage of water in the desert.
We yearn to discover a sanctuary where we can experience rejuvenation and a return to completeness on physical, emotional, and mental levels. Yet, one of the primary obstacles to achieving this rests in our ability to grant ourselves the permission to engage in the vital process of rest and recharge.
For many of us, acknowledging our need for any form of respite proves to be a formidable challenge, often evoking feelings of vulnerability. We tend to hold onto the belief that we should be capable of relentlessly persevering through our weariness no matter the cost. In the context of Western culture, our relentless busyness is often glorified, as we associate perpetual motion with our perceived importance, value, or utility in the world.
By clarifying what matters most to you and incorporating daily rest practices, you can undergo a profound transformation in how you perceive and engage in weekends. But how do you create weekend habits that nourish you?
Pursue passion projects
What are your hobbies? Is there something new you would like to try? Use your weekends to engage in activities that ignite your passions. Whether painting, hiking, or writing, dedicating time to what you love can be truly rejuvenating.
In her book The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron teaches an exercise called “The Artist Date” it is a once weekly, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. It need not be overly “artistic” she states it should be more ‘mischief than mastery.’ You can create experiences for yourself that spark whimsy, imagination and joy without always feeling the need to master it.
Reflect on childhood nostalgia
What did you love doing as a child? Can you remember the last time you engaged in this activity? Often the activities that lit us up as children are the purest most joyous expression of who we are. Can you tap back into an activity that brought you joy as a child? This nostalgia can spark a newfound lease on life.
Spend quality time with loved ones
Our relationships matter. The Harvard Study on Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of its kind, revealed that the key to a fulfilling and healthy life lies in the quality of our relationships. Over several decades, researchers found that strong social connections, more so than wealth, fame, or career success, are the primary factors contributing to happiness and wellbeing.
Furthermore, the study emphasised the detrimental effects of social isolation and loneliness on physical and mental health. It underscores the importance of nurturing meaningful relationships throughout our lives as a fundamental element of lifelong happiness and overall health.
Nurture and develop your relationships
Some research suggests that connecting with friends over dinner once a week has positive impacts on happiness levels. Perhaps you and a group of friends can map out a regular dinner catch up. You could rotate houses or make a list of restaurants you want to try in your city and explore them together. If weekly feels too much, could you do it once a month?
Do a digital detox
Consider a weekend digital detox. Disconnect from screens and social media to fully immerse yourself in the present moment and reduce stress.
Explore the outdoors and experience nature
Explore the outdoors and immerse yourself in nature. Hiking, camping, going to the beach, or taking long walks in the park can be incredibly refreshing and there is a growing body of research on the positive impacts of being in nature. In many cities there are groups that you can join who go on hikes, dip in the ocean or meditate on the beach. This is a great way to get out in nature and connect with new people.
Allow yourself to be bored
Boredom is actually a very healthy and useful emotional state for your brain to be in. It is linked to creativity, problem solving and mental health benefits. Yet, our current obsession with our devices rarely allows time for boredom states to exist. To tap into boredom you can try going for a walk on a path you are overly familiar with, sit with your eyes closed or lay down and stare at clouds. It may surprise you where your imagination lands.
I was sitting in my friend Christine’s kitchen in Nashville recently, when her 7-year-old son walked in asking her “what does sustainable mean?” her response was “it means being able to keep going long term.”
Rest is about human sustainability, it’s a key to unlock our most alive futures. It is not self-indulgent, it is necessary for us to show up as the best version of ourselves in our work and relationships for the long term. You cannot truly be there for others unless you first prioritise being there for yourself, and the only person who can grant you the permission to rest is yourself.