Who gives me permission to rest?

The beginning of this year has felt a bit of a slog.

After a couple of years of living in limbo, expectations were high for 2022 and so far, none of those expectations have been met.

Finally succumbing to covid just under two weeks ago seemed to be the cherry on the icing of the cake. Although most of Instagram were sharing their own snapshots of two little red lines on a Lateral Flow and friends and colleagues were also struck down with it, it came at a time where I thought things were about to be on the ‘up’ – always when you least expect it.

It left me feeling quite ill, too. A couple of days of vertigo that meant I couldn’t do much more than lay down in bed watching films, the cat stretched out on top of me, pleased that I had finally joined her in the comforts of a duvet at 3pm.

While the garden showed the early signs of spring, I ran hot baths in the afternoon – the medicinal scent of Badedas creating a swamp-like pool of bubbles. My brain couldn’t stretch to reading a book. Instead, I watched episodes of old sitcoms on repeat, fell asleep in front of the latest Disney offering. I watched the first episode of Countdown I’d seen in about fifteen years.

I was forced to rest. Given permission, in fact. I was told repeatedly by people I knew to slow down, go easy on yourself.

rest, rest, rest.

And after I’d begun to feel better? I’d forgotten how difficult it is to bounce back when you’ve been out of action for a while. I’d forgotten the creeping self-doubt that comes just after you’ve spent a week in your pyjamas.

Immediately, my brain was whirring. I was putting pressure on myself. Perhaps I’d start running again (good one, brain), or maybe I’d write a book? I should definitely pick up with the friends I haven’t spoken to lately. Maybe I could take on a new project at work? With the relief of a negative lateral flow test (day eleven! Finally!) came a whirlwind of thoughts and expectations about how I should DO MORE and BE MORE.

And yet, while I leant into ‘rest’ the last couple of weeks (I almost referred to it as ‘laziness’ there and had to re-edit, such is my issue), I felt like my brain had space to breathe. I remembered the joy of doing nothing at all – however uncomfortable that felt.

Because it does feel uncomfortable, to stop myself from feeling that I have to be ‘productive’ all the time – something I know others struggle with too. If I’m not multitasking, I’m not tasking. Cooking dinner while listening to a podcast and simultaneously adding things to my online shopping basket, watching a film while mentally going through my week task-by-task. Sometimes, it is hard to switch off.

This month, I have booked two weeks away from work. I had factored in the bank holiday weekends, planning a long stretch of pottering in the garden, coffees with friends, reading books and going on long walks. Sorting out cupboards, making a pizza from scratch, perhaps a day trip to the beach? I’m determined not to fill my hours. I’m determined not to plan too much in.

Instead, I’ll try and give my brain space to breathe. To be.

rest, rest, rest.

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