Putting the year to rest: time to relax, restore, and restart

Written by Briana Cavanaugh

January 3, 2022

Winter solstice, because even the sun needs to rest

What’s hardest in the winter? When the days are shorter, does it make you want to slow down? What does your body usually want to do?

Here in the northern hemisphere, we had the winter solstice two weeks ago, and my sleep patterns are getting hilariously weird!

For several months, I’ve been focusing on health issues. It’s scary to write about it because some people treat me with contempt or condescension – as if all health problems are the result of doing something wrong. Sad fact: everyone has health problems sooner or later!

I’m eager to get more involved with my company Bliss Your Money again. For years, I’ve been working towards my vision of entrepreneurs and employees like Team Bliss, a whole community of folks marginalized due to gender, sexuality, race, disability, class, and so on – offering each other support and creative opportunities to help each other.  We could be a community that inspires each other to create an incredible future with joy, kindness, pleasure, and generosity.

Recent years have been so difficult, and I see more difficulty coming, especially in early 2022. These hardships only strengthen my belief that we must work together in our communities to hold together in kindness for future joy.

I take inspiration in learning about partnership and community partly from the interdependence of living things and natural forces, even from the cycles of the sky. When the sun goes to sleep, the moon and stars take their turn to light the world.

The purpose and importance of rest

I believe we all have a right to pleasure – and rest is one of the pleasures we need! You know that cozy feeling of snuggling down in a warm bed, alone or with a loved one? How refreshing it can feel to wake up after a long sleep? Going about your day with a renewed point of view?

The need for rest is part of being a living person with a body. When we care for our bodies by getting enough rest, we are more able to take pleasure in our waking experiences.

Different bodies have different needs – and our needs change throughout our lives. For example, many people suffer fatigue as a result of aging or a post-viral condition.  Sadly, we’re going to see a whole lot more people needing support with post-viral health issues in the coming years.

If you need reminders to help you rest enough, try following the Nap Ministry on social media. They discuss rest as a form of resistance to oppressive systems, such as the constant grind to keep our needs met under a capitalist system that lacks adequate social safety nets.

Additionally, many people have created self-care reminder bots, such as doomscroll_bot, to help break or mitigate unhealthy social media habits

Relax when it’s time to relax

One night years ago I couldn’t sleep because my brain was all wound up, tick-tick-ticking away, thinking hard about an unpleasant chore that needed doing. I was even visualizing it as if it needed a lot of strategy to succeed. At that point I caught myself. Scrubbing the bathroom doesn’t take strategy! I used a relaxation technique to put myself to sleep.

Since then I’ve occasionally said to myself, “Don’t scrub the bathroom in your sleep,” as a reminder to be present to relaxation. What I learned is that practicing good boundaries with myself helps me get the best out of whatever I’m trying to do.

The boundary means that I keep work time and non-work time as separate as possible. When I work, I trust myself to rest when necessary, and when I rest, I trust myself to work when necessary.

Some of this involves planning. I schedule breaks during my workday as well as frequent short vacations. I take longer vacations at least once a year.

There are moments when I have to change my plans spontaneously. I might cut a workday short due to pain, or I might get out of bed to jot a list of tasks that are distracting me from falling sleep. When I’m not supposed to be working and a work-related task list appears in my head, I record it immediately so that I can let go of any worry that I’ll forget something important. After writing it down, I can put it out of my head and get back to playing games, reading, or napping.

Mindfulness and self-trust are key to having these boundaries with myself about rest, whether planned or spontaneous. And mindfulness and self-trust aren’t character traits, they’re skills that I developed with practice!

On the holidays, mindfulness is especially important because of the pressure to celebrate, which can involve a lot of cooking and cleaning and maybe more social time than is good for me! So I have to protect my rest time.

The importance of resting as a cooperative activity

We usually use the word “boundaries” when we’re talking about relationships. So let’s talk about relationships!

When I’m tempted to short myself on sleep, it means that my material or emotional needs aren’t being met, or I have a fear that they won’t continue to be met. When my son’s other parent abandoned us, I had to do everything myself. Bringing in money, cleaning the apartment, caring for my son. A lot of parents end up staying awake long after the kids go down, because of the need for leisure. But that leisure can come at the expense of sleep.

Maybe you have had a similar challenge. You’re single, or your partner isn’t participating in domestic and childcare duties, or the household isn’t bringing in enough money to meet your need for safety. Some of this might be fixable by negotiating boundaries, because getting enough rest happens in a community context.

And communities are like onions: you’re inside the community of your closest family and friends, which is inside your subculture, which is inside your city or regional community, which is inside your country.

Dysfunction at any level can cause shortages at the most personal level. It’s hard to make a whole country change, but recognizing the layers of community help us more effectively recognize where a problem is coming from and how to negotiate interpersonal boundaries to get everyone’s needs met as much as possible.

How to protect others’ right to rest

I keep my team informed about how often I take breaks, and I encourage them to take time off, too. Additionally, I try to let clients and subcontractors know when our “office” is closed. These are some of the ways that I support rest as an entrepreneur.

As a consumer, I try to be kind and patient with restaurant workers, hotel and hospitality workers, and all those who must work the hardest when most of us are working the least.

Another way that we can get or give support within our community is by volunteering to lift each others’ burdens, for example by cleaning a sick friend’s house or temporarily hiring a virtual assistant for another entrepreneur who’s struggling.

When I started writing this blog post, I meant to include a whole section about how to get started working again after a break, but you know what? I don’t think we should be thinking about that right now. I hope you get a chance for some rest.

Bliss Your Money provides bookkeeping and profitability services. We also lead mastermind groups. Check them out!


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