I’m about 60/30 on opening back up again and returning to ‘normal’. I’m not totally ready if I am honest. If there’s one thing I am sure about though, is that I don’t want to see ‘normal’ in the way it was. I feel like it’s time for a totally new way of doing mostly everything, but where do we even begin?
As Wild Within our work as a collective and as individuals is centred around wellbeing. To what extent can we achieve this in turbulent times? Despite many of us feeling exhausted, worried, and overwhelmed by the trappings of capitalism, injustice and discrimination - amongst other things, a lot of us in our own ways are trying to change the paradigm. If anything, the last few years unearthed a lot that needs to change and I believe that if we take a look at our aversion to slowing down and resting, it may be one of the key starting points in recovery and having the resilience to create a brighter more liberated future.
In these last few months, I have been forced to slow riiiigghhhht down. I have learnt that if you don’t stop, your body will stop you. Facts. Well, actually, I knew this but I thought I could cheat the odds. Burnout combined with poor health sucks. Working at a pace that is unsustainable will always come at a cost. Yes, there is work to do, fights to fight, but as I was reminded via a meme I saw, “In order to fight another day, you must live to see it”.
A desire to exist outside of the systems and structures that oppress and minimise us has seen the rise of people choosing to do more meaningful work. Leisure, rest and enjoyment can feel at times less worthy than the causes we stand for or the goals we want to achieve. Sacrificing ourselves for ‘the work’, feeling guilt for downtime and as a result, further driving an expectation that even free time should be spent optimising ourselves in some way.
Why does it feel so hard? Something seemingly so simple being met with so much resistance. Being ‘on’ 24/7 is doing nothing for our nervous systems and overall health. Being able to slow down is so important, why? Because rest disrupts unhealthy patterns, intervenes against unsustainable systems, allows space for healing and to re-centre ourselves. It gives us permission to be more human.
Joy and rest are increasingly becoming political acts against current systems that we want to stand against. I’ve been loving The Nap Ministry on Instagram founded in 2016 by Tricia Hersey. Their Nap Manifesto outlines their mission, which states “We believe that rest, and napping, provides a healing portal for us to imagine, to hope, to invent, to create, to heal, to rest, to resist.”
Rest isn’t just self care, it's a valid form of activism, a form of resistance and a foundation for the disruption of capitalism, inequality and injustice.
What if we reframe rest, as a conceptual space, a threshold that allows for new ways of being and seeing for the new world that we want to create? Perhaps a world that's liberated, just and has a fertile foundation for us to live in our fullest capacity.
Research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, found that ‘74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope’. 81% of women said this compared to 67% of men. As women we need to remember that our resilience, our power, our joy and rest are as important as the weight we place on the duties of responsibility we carry.
Tamu Thomas of Live Three Sixty speaks of normalising the practice of ‘operating within your bandwidth’ to be able to keep our cups full and well as ‘tending to our essential needs’.
We need to get better about nurturing ourselves like we do for those around us. It could be just slowing down, checking in to allow ourselves space to discern what is needed in the moment. It’s easy to get caught up in our own expectations for ourselves or even our enthusiasm for materialising what we're passionate about, it can often have us in go-mode without taking a breather.
Eloquently described in the book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything. And, do you know what? I agree. There’s a time to party, to protest, to reflect, to be ratchet, to heal and to rest.