Sometimes I can take a nap with my husband. But mostly, I nap by myself or lie down and close my eyes. I fall asleep often in a big armchair, but resist it because a nap in it for longer than 10 minutes is disaster for my back.

I believe in naps. Naps and a cat saved my life.

When we moved to the house we live in now, I was seriously depressed. Tired all the time although only working part-time. I had also sprained my ankle, badly and had to shlep my son to school every day. It was the equivalent of 3 blocks from my house, but limping with my son next to me, and chatting with a neighbor and her kids were all I seemed able to do.

I would get home, get back into bed and my cat would come and purr on my chest. That was how I spent the the first couple of months living in our "new" house.

If it hadn't been for my cat and child, I might have died, I think. I finally got to the doctor. She prescribed an anti depressant and gave me the name of a therapist, and I gradually got better.

So when I get tired and confused and my brain won't take another step, that's what I do now. I go lie down. Sometimes a cat will will lie down next to me or at my feet -- these cats are not like my old, cuddling cat (he passed in 2016). But I just lie down and remind myself of the healing that sleep and rest can do. Who am I hurting if I don't rest? Myself and by extension, those with whom I have a relationship that involves caring. Who am I hurting if I do rest? No one. It's a quiet win.

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For me what works is having a very regular resting schedule. I try to get a good nights sleep and at least an hour of rest every weekday. I don’t any work chores or errands on Saturdays. And I take a week off of everything every three months.

Because I get so much regular rest I never crash and burn out.

For me resting = walking, reading on the couch, day dreaming and hanging out with fun people I really love.

It’s a very nice way to live!

It took me a few years of trial and error to figure out what works for me. And I imagine I’ll need to keep tweaking as my life changes.

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Oh, mini-healingpaloozas sound wonderful! Just reading about your beautiful retreat has me inspired to create something small and intimate within our own home this summer, bringing people in simply to ground into the blissful doing of nothing.

The idea of rest being interconnected with the presence of community is a fascinating one to me. I think you're SO right about it being more nourishing than simply resting alone, and your description of it feeling "boundless and unconstrained and slow and useless and surprising and downright enjoyable" feels spot on to me. I've found that some relationships allow space for this to take place, and some simply don't, and whether someone is a good candidate for sharing rest seems to have a great deal to do with that person's ability to sit in presence. (Perhaps this is why films and shows very rarely leave me feeling rested: partly because they feel like active relational engagement, and partly because they feel like a dip out of full-body presence.)

I'm curious to know your thoughts on how waiting for collapse in order to "force" rest affects that subsequent doing of nothing. I find for myself that if I wait until I'm lost in a haze or falling to pieces in order to rest, the resting that happens is not rest at all but an act of survivalism that involves checking out of the daily rituals not to relax but to overcompensate because I truly CAN'T do anything else at that point. Which certainly suggests that coding rest into the sequence of one's days and weeks seems not just a luxury but a necessity in order to truly access its healing.

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Thank you so much for this excellent, thought provoking newsletter. Rest is something I have thought a great deal about and I constantly 'chuckle' (while biting my tongue in half) at the difference in my husband and my definition of rest!

I agree with all of you that napping is wonderful and being fully cared for would be a marvelous and very restful adventure, one that I haven't tried for about 40 years, but I yearn for it.

One thing I have found most nourishing, and as rare as a unicorn, is unrestricted time. The occasion where I have absolutely nothing and no one on the schedule is about as restful as I think I can feel.

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When I first separated from my ex-husband, I established a 10 minute morning routine that provided me with a greater feeling of rest than anything else I had previously tried to insert into my daily life as “rest-inducing.” It was so simple: a spoken recitation of all those things I was grateful for, followed by several minutes of sitting, eyes closed, simply listening to and concentrating on ambient sounds. This was my meditation, and I forced myself to do it in the early morning, when I am typically most energetic. This routine worked wonders: it left me calm, focused, restored and energized.

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Currently, rest (now I'M wondering what the definition of rest!) is been interesting to navigate! Even during my 2-week break from public writing, I still wrote. BUT, it wasn't forced. Drafts and full poem pieces and such just flowed to me and I'd let it come. Anything I was excited about, I'd try to let myself do. Or just focus on what was going on around me with less antsy thoughts such as "I need to do some writing! I need to do some work! I need to look busy! I can't let people think I'm lazy!"

It felt good the one time I did it, haha.

I know it's rest when it doesn't feel naggy like I "should" or "need" to do certain things for productivity's sake. Sometimes though, that includes talking myself into playing a video game or watching an anime until it feel "just right", cause I'd tell myself I "didn't deserve it" a lot in the past, until I was "productive enough."

I haven't rested with others before! Once I was at a friends and she and her friend were chilling on the phone while the TV was playing a show and I COULDN'T HANDLE SITTING THERE. I wanted SO BAD to go home to fidget with work or rest alone I guess?

But then on a cruise, naturally, I felt better about resting. Shoot, there was no WiFi so I HAD to rest. But it felt good to lay outside and fall asleep.

The Healingpalooza you had seems so beneficial though when you add the intention around it! Kinda like how we have the intention to work at a cafe cause of the energy of everyone else.

Hmmm... And I'm not sure what the difference for me between rest and distraction/entertainment is. I felt like resting could include giving a show your undivided attention or a videogame or something. I think my biggest stretch would be to return to bed and play games and watch TV all day. I WANT to, but have yet to do it for fear of being judged (because I don't have a "job" or make an income that makes me feel "worthy" of that type of break around family members).

The way you fleshed out what a day of rest could really be, really started making my wheels turn!

How have you been able to differentiate rest from distraction? How does rest leave you feeling and how does distraction/entertainment (like my Marvelous Mrs. Maisel watching) leave you feeling?

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I appreciate this angle of rest in relation to others. I had never thought before how rest is communal, but it totally is! It is terribly hard to rest when my husband is flitting around me doing all of the things. Those messages about being lazy and having things to do are so hard to unlearn and exacerbated by my role as a stay at home mom (I don't "work" so clearly I don't need rest).

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Your healingpalooza sounds wonderful Rae. I have envy and also I struggle to rest in the presence of other humans because of ‘burnt chop syndrome” - where the women puts others’ needs ahead of her own (https://www.oup.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/145700/WOTM-September-2019-burnt-chop-syndrome.pdf)

Thank you for discussing the pain of un-learning when we are already so tired. I told my psychologist this week that I just wanted a week (or 2) of being taken care of, of meals & clean clothes appearing without my involvement so I could rest, and they looked wistful and said that most of us want that sometimes.

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I just wrote about attending fellow Substacker Christine Wolf’s Write-to-Heal retreat. Hosted at Civana Spa for 5 days / 4 nights, it was the perfect healing opportunity: all meals prepared, tons of active / meditative classes for free, every choice a healthy one. But what really made it special was the ten women in attendance; none of whom I knew prior, all of whom had experienced some trauma (but these days, which of us haven’t) and were interested in writing’s role in the healing process.

I’ve done years of therapy to process a 4+ year cancer journey, and the retreat was more than I could have imagined. The writing workshops helped me release guilt and shame I had carried for over a decade, and the community allowed me to see my own experience with fresh eyes.

I left feeling like every one of us should be taking dedicated time to heal like this. Thanks for voicing that important sentiment!

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I literally have no idea how to rest. There. I said it.

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I have way too many of those version one days when extreme fatigue makes me sleep so much and the only thing that makes it a little better is learning, slowly, to be gentle with myself and not add judgment to those days.

Love this story of healing rest with others. My bestie and I have “whine and wine” days at his place that feel like rest. With another friend it is slow urban walks. My favorite rest is snuggles with my partner and/or my pups. Watching the dogs play can be rest for me. Reading often feels restful for me and I incorporate a lot of it into my days.

I also “watch” a lot of tv (it’s on, it’s formulaic, I am often not exactly watching) and listen to true crime podcasts and I go back and forth on what role this plays for me and whether or not I “should” do this less. Sometimes doing it gets me in this great almost meditative daydream state that is actually nourishing. Sometimes I realize I have had other people’s words in my brain for so long I have forgotten how to think. It’s an ongoing process. Again gentleness with self helps. There is always the option in every next minute to choose differently if I want to. ❤️

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You and me both, Robin. I doubt I would (have begun to) learn about rest if I wasn’t medically required. Partly I write hoping that others won’t have to learn the hard way.

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My work schedule is pretty demanding and on average, I don't sleep enough during the week (I'm trying to figure out what "enough" is anyway...) so even though I KNOW it's a fallacy that we can catch up on sleep, I'm hesitant to commit to many plans on the weekend because I need to "rest." Well, rest ends up being cleaning my apartment and doing every chore imaginable that probably doesn't need to be done immediately. In January, my friend had a birthday party about an hour drive away and I was going to spend the night at her place. Oh, no..I'm going to pay for this in mid-week exhaustion, I thought.

Instead, when I came home Sunday afternoon I felt SO well rested. I didn't sleep much, we were up late. But the drive home didn't even bother me, and I felt so nourished from spending time with my friends and out of my routines. Then I had an a-ha moment, Oh! Rest does not only include sleep!!! Since then I've taken people up on way more activities than I normally would, a superbowl party, a short weekend away etc. So I fully agree, there is a communal aspect to rest. Also with friends I am receiving attention, consideration, and wisdom that I feel like I'm constantly churning out at work but not receiving in return. So it brings me back into balance.

PS- I used to go to a laundromat called Laundrypalooza, I feel like there should be a day spa called Healingpalooza... brilliant!

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I have been wrangling with my own relationship to rest versus all-that-is-not-rest, as well, and I’ve found a few things factoring in:

- listening, and really getting to know and respond to my body’s signals

- Prioritising my body

- Living “restfully” when I don’t have the resources to rest how I optimally would… this takes a lot of micro-changes which I think has really saved me from collapse/full-blown PND.

- Living Restfully often involves lowering my standards, and worrying less about what others think of me (VERY hard for me to do)

THEN I sit and wonder will I ever achieve anything of note at this pace, and does this even matter, and is this all just temporary (because it feels like and eternity- life with a chronic non-sleeping child after 3 years), and what is my life anyway, as long as I’m being kind to others, blah blah yada yada!!

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Music. Reading and going for a walk/jog. Primarily alone. So not impinging or impinged by others.

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