May 30, 2023
In 2022, there isn’t a lot of space for rest.
With the realities of working from home, the endless search for side-gigs, and a constant push for increasing productivity, it’s no wonder that burn-out rates are getting higher every day. Yet, even people with the means to take a mental health day or snag a few extra hours of sleep, don’t necessarily end up feeling rested or refreshed afterwards. How can we get out of this endless cycle of fatigue and burn-out?
The answer may simply come from listening to our bodies. In the first episode of Psystem’s original podcast, Ready When You Are, founder Andrew Hartman talks with Adrianne Vangool, owner of Vangool Wellness, about how we can better understand our bodies’ needs and meet them. In this episode, Hartman talks about their own experiences using busyness and productivity to distract from chronic pain caused by ankylosing spondylitis.
“People would tell me, ‘Oh, your body will tell you [you need rest] if you listen to it,’ and I would think, ‘Nah, not me!’ but apparently I’m human just like everyone else."
The cycle of using the adrenaline of our busy lives to push ourselves harder only to end up more exhausted is a common one. Whether you’re struggling with the day-to-day of living with a chronic illness or trying to keep up with the culture of endless productivity, it’s easy to distract ourselves when our bodies let us know we’re taking on too much.
Now let’s be clear: productivity isn’t a bad thing and the ability to push yourself out of your comfort zone can help you grow in your career, social life, and your health; however, there’s only so much that this approach can do to distract from areas of your life that may need more attention. You can remove the guilt from resting and listen to your body better in four steps.
When caught in the cycle of keeping busy, we may find ourselves thinking that we don’t deserve a break to take care of ourselves until the work is done. “I think we tend to go on a pendulum from adrenaline, from ‘go, go, go…keeping busy as a strategy to not feel pain, because if I slow down, things get worse’,” says Vangool. Biologically speaking, the stress of keeping ourselves busy can actually act as an anti-inflammatory, relieving pain in the short-term, but creating more issues in the long-term, according to this article.
Vangool explains that the first step in the process of intentionally resting is valuing yourself enough to give yourself space to rest, “The process really starts with kind of getting real…and noticing what’s messy and starting to clean up…in a way of, you know, loving yourself through it."
This step may be the most challenging one to take. In this day and age, ‘hustle culture’ can make it seem like the only way to succeed is by putting in 100% into everything you do, all the time—it’s no wonder that burn-out is becoming more common. It’s time to shift your mindset to focus on yourself and your health, and like Hartman, remind yourself that rest is not a weakness: “I would train myself to rethink it, so rather than see it as weakness, I would see it as a true act of self-love”.
The most important step in this process is taking the time to note what your body is actually feeling and needing at a given time. In this episode, Hartman and Vangool talk about the importance of self-awareness when it comes to our bodies and “the power in the pause” when we value ourselves enough to take the time to listen what our bodies are trying to tell us.
How do we go about listening to our bodies? It’s all about noticing your own patterns and tendencies throughout your life. Are you someone who tends to push yourself to the point of burn-out? Are there warning signs in your day-to-day life that you may be ignoring? If you find that you’re firing on all cylinders during the work week, only to crash every weekend and end up sitting on the couch and bingeing Netflix, that may be a sign that you’re in need of more regular and mindful rest.
Once you begin to take note of your body’s warning signs and signals, you’ll be able to enter more of a maintenance and reparative phase in your body, Vangool explains, saying, “The end-goal is to find those moments of feeling better and feeling like you can show up more in your life”.
Now, this step is easier said than done. We live in a culture that values productivity and hard work more than almost everything. The idea that we don’t have to earn rest can seem radical to say the least. But for us to feel better and show up as our best selves every day, we need to take the time to intentionally rest without feeling guilty or worrying about what’s waiting for us on our to-do list.
So, do the radical thing: Go for a quick walk in the middle of your virtual workday. Log out of your email for an hour and read for pleasure. Find that perfect position on the couch and zone out staring out the window. Whatever makes your body feel relaxed and your mind drift – do it!
Remember, this isn’t about getting lost scrolling through TikTok or bingeing Netflix. It’s about making the conscious decision to make your body and mind feel safe enough to recharge. Doing nothing isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Vangool puts it perfectly when she reminds us: “You’re worth fussing over”. You are worth showing up for in your life! The key to taking care of ourselves and putting our best foot forward every day is to remember that we deserve to feel safe, cared for, and loved in our own bodies.
Now that you know your body’s warning signs and how to rest in a way that is effective for you, use that information as a tool in your daily life. When you feel your stress and adrenaline rising, plan time to decompress and rest intentionally. Understanding your own cycles can give us a sense of control and a feeling of safety, which can be a game changer when it comes to overcoming burnout.
It’s not easy to go against the ‘hustle culture’ that we see everyday. In fact, some days it can feel near impossible. But, if you take the time to pause, listen, and work with your body, you’ll feel the effects in every area of your life. So, in the words of Adrianne Vangool, ask yourself: Where do you I need to start today?
Listen to the full episode of Ready When You Are on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever you find your podcasts. To learn more about Psystem and how working with a coach can help you listen to your body and improve your relationship with rest, view our service offerings or book your free Discovery Session today.
Abramson, Ashley. “Burnout and Stress Are Everywhere.” Https://Www.apa.org, 2022, www.apa.org/monitor/2022/01/special-burnout-stress. Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.
Hannibal, Kara E., and Mark D. Bishop. “Chronic Stress, Cortisol Dysfunction, and Pain: A Psychoneuroendocrine Rationale for Stress Management in Pain Rehabilitation.” Physical Therapy, vol. 94, no. 12, 1 Dec. 2014, pp. 1816–1825, academic.oup.com/ptj/article/94/12/1816/2741907?login=false, 10.2522/ptj.20130597. Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.
“The Truth about the Hustle Culture.” Taylors University, Taylors University, 2021, university.taylors.edu.my/en/campus-life/news-and-events/news/the-truth-about-the-hustle-culture.html. Accessed 25 Jan. 2022.
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