The Battle Against Having a Rest

I am the world’s worst person at taking time out when I have to. Tell me to rest and I will do anything but.

Who better to write about how important it is to have some rest then? Yes, I know…

The World’s Most Impatient Woman (TM)

If I have to wait for something important, I am a nightmare.

I am a ball of contradictions. I can hear my husband agreeing from here. If I want to make an expensive purchase, I can wait weeks, even months before I buy it. I will research for the best price and save for it. I have no problem with this.

Tell me I have to wait for something like an event or worse, having an enforced rest, and I am a jibbering, frantic mess.

I am the woman who often reads the ending of a novel before I begin it. I’ve stopped doing it recently. Thrillers aren’t quite the same when you know who did it.

So, if I have to take a rest from something, I become something I cannot recognise.

Imagine what a joy I am to live with right now. My novel is with beta readers and I have to rest from running because of an injury.

It takes me a long time to let go and rest. The beta reading is good for me as I cannot force the process. Well, I can but I will probably have no readers left.

If I was left unsupervised I’d set up cameras in my beta readers’ homes just to check their reading progress. I would send Big Brother style messages to them to hurry the f**k up. But I won’t. I can’t afford the cameras.

I have been battling a leg injury. I’ve had it for weeks. Have I rested as the doctor husband suggested? Have I heck.

Instead I have tried to cheat recovery by stretching, doing workouts on other parts of my body, taking long walks rather than running…doing anything but resting.

This blog post is brought to you by a woman who finally gave in and knows she needs to rest before her body breaks.

A Fear of Resting

The Battle Against Resting - resting dogIt’s human nature to keep on keeping on. In this consumerist, fast world, stopping isn’t well-received as an option.

I’ve learnt to slow down in many areas of my life. I’ve made changes in my career and way of life to necessitate the need to not be running constantly at double speed. When I did live life fast and frantic my mental health suffered.

That said, I still view taking time out to rest as being defeated. The perfectionist in me holds impossible standards I have to fight daily. Mental health issues mean I have to consistently challenge negative thinking.

I worry that if I rest I am being idle. This is partly down to being brought up in a working class family. My parents have always grafted. The work ethic was strong when I was growing up.

My dad would work all hours as a self-employed thatcher and gardener. My mum had part-time jobs on top of raising five children. Rest was a luxury enjoyed by others, not an option, in our home.

My fear of resting comes from an internal voice that says others will think I’m lazy.

When I began writing full-time, I wrestled with people thinking I was sitting at home, eating my body weight in chocolate, and binging on box sets while my husband works hard to bring home the bacon (and chocolate).

I realise those fears and accusing voices are my own. No-one has said those things to me. They may be thinking them but I cannot hear thoughts, so why worry?

Resting doesn’t come easy to me. From years of depressive episodes, I equate resting with mental illness. My darkest times were spent unable to get out of bed or barely moving from the sofa.

I need to learn to understand that when I choose to rest, I am in control. This hasn’t been imposed upon me. I can keep active if I want but there will be a price to pay of not getting back to running for a long time because of making my injury worse.

The Fear of Procrastination

At the beginning of a rest period I can actually enjoy myself.

In the first week of beta reading, I decided to take some time off from writing. I’d slogged my guts out re-drafting and editing. I felt like I deserved it.

I loved waking up a little later and lounging around. It was liberating to decide what to do that day that wouldn’t involve writing. Contrary to what many writers will enforce upon you, it is okay to take a break from writing.

It is when you find yourself a year later, still resting, that you may have to have a word with yourself.

I can procrastinate for Britain and a few other countries besides. I know if I take too long off I will get caught in the trap of watching drivel on the TV, worshipping at the altar of social media, and find myself wearing PJs more than actual clothes.

I have to be careful when I choose to take a rest or have to. Procrastination is a wily bitch that gets her claws right into me. This is why I am reluctant to rest.

The tipping point between getting actual rest and having my arse melded to the sofa is a delicate place.

I Give Myself Permission to Rest

The Battle Against Resting - resting catThis probably sounds like hippy dippy drivel but apparently your brain needs to see things written down sometimes in order to process it. The husband gave me this tip. He is as far from being a hippy as you can imagine.

By writing this post and now the words, ‘I give myself permission to rest’, apparently I have to accept the fact and get on with it.

Okay, I wrote it down. Can I just do a few lunges and squats though?

A Rest Isn’t a Coma

Rest is defined by the Oxford dictionary as,

Cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength.

Nowhere in that definition do I see the word, coma.

I do not have to duck out of life completely because I cannot run and my novel is with beta readers.

With the writing, I am stocking up on writing blog posts. This will be useful for when I get the novel back and am eyebrows deep in discarded pieces of paper and revisions.

With the running, I do have to stop. My leg will basically drop off if I went for a run right now. Okay, not strictly true but I’m a melodramatic writer.

I have to rest my body and allow it to recover. I don’t need to give up.

A New Way

The Battle Against Resting - Superman restingRest can bring change.

Once I am fully recovered and running, I hope I will have learnt how to look after my body better.

I began too late in cross training and strength work. I didn’t realise in time to listen to my body and not push it beyond its limits.

Runners are renowned for being rubbish at resting. We cannot accept taking time out until it is imposed upon us. I hope I will learn lessons from this time of injury and come back stronger and more knowledgeable.

I can take a lot from when I took months off from writing, due to depression. I just couldn’t write. I feared I’d never be able to write again.

It wasn’t the truth. I returned; a stronger writer. I wrote a novel, kept this blog going, and wrote short stories. I can transfer this to running too.

Over to You

How do you feel about resting?

Are you a reluctant rester or do you recognise the signs and just do it?

Have you benefited from taking a rest?

What advice would you give others about resting?

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer. When she's not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, books, the cats, and the husband. Perhaps not in that order.

4 comments on “The Battle Against Having a Rest

  1. Lisa, so many things you’ve said resonate with me – although, I think I’ve become someone who doesn’t like to rest (I used to be a real lazy arse!). Not because I’m a particularly hard worker, but I realised if I stopped, I would think, dwell and sink – not resting was a way of avoiding my mental health issues in recent years. Unfortunately, we all need physical and mental rest – the trick is embracing it and using it to our advantage!

    1. I can relate. Whenever I could see depression was coming I used to work twice as hard. I thought that way I could get everything done before it floored me. Unfortunately it just made me even more ill a lot sooner.

      Thanks for replying and sharing, Nicky.

  2. I always feel guilty when I rest it makes me feel so lazy. When I stop I see it as wasting time when I should be busy being productive. Even when I’m tired it takes a lot to make me stop. I completely understand what you mean Lisa.

    1. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to taking a rest. It’s definitely something we need to learn to do more often and without guilt.

      Thanks for commenting, Debbie.

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