In the fast-paced and demanding world we live in, it's easy to fall into the trap of feeling guilty for taking time to rest and recharge. Many of us are constantly battling the pressure of productivity culture and messages that we aren't "doing enough". I hear many young adults talk about how they feel "lazy" if they try to take a break. As a therapist, I often work with my clients to challenge these thoughts and feeling. Giving yourself permission to rest is essential for your mental health and overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explore valuable tips to help college students and young adults overcome guilt and embrace rest as an integral part of self-care.
1. Recognize the Importance of Rest:
Understand that rest is not a luxury but a necessity. Resting allows your mind and body to recharge, replenish energy, and improve overall cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. It is crucial for maintaining focus, concentration, and productivity. Accept that rest is an essential part of your overall well-being, just like eating, sleeping, and movement.
2. Challenge the Guilt:
Guilt often accompanies the act of resting, but it's important to challenge those feelings. Remind yourself that resting is not lazy or unproductive. It is a healthy practice that allows you to show up as your best self in all aspects of your life. Replace guilt with self-compassion and remind yourself that you deserve and need this time to recharge.
Consider the evidence you currently have that rest is beneficial to you. Most of us understand that sleep is crucial for our functioning the next day or that resting while an injury heal is important. Mental and physical rest is just as important and necessary to our functioning.
3. Prioritize Self-Care:
Make self-care a non-negotiable priority in your life. Schedule regular self-care activities, such as engaging in movement you enjoy, practicing mindfulness, reading a book, meeting a friend for coffee, or trying a new hobby. Treat these moments as sacred and non-negotiable, just like any other important commitment in your life. Self-care doesn't have to be a huge commitment, it can be just a few intentional minutes each day to help you recharge.
Consider utilizing habit pairing to make self-care a habit. Habit pairing consists of using an established daily habit as a reminder to engage in a new habit you're trying to form. For example: if you brush your teeth daily, maybe you put a note on your bathroom mirror to remind you to journal for 5 minutes immediately after brushing your teeth. Eventually journaling will become part of your routine the way that brushing your teeth is and it will be just as much of a habit.
4. Set Boundaries:
Establish clear boundaries with your time and energy. Adopt assertive communication skills to help you communicate your boundaries to others. Give yourself permission to say no to excessive commitments or activities that drain or disinterest you. Protect your personal time by creating a schedule that includes designated rest periods. Remember that boundaries help us foster meaningful and fulfilling relationships that don't drain us.
5. Practice Mindfulness:
Engage in mindfulness practices to cultivate present-moment awareness and reduce anxiety about resting. Focus on the present and let go of worries or future obligations. There are many ways to practice mindfulness and it can be fun to explore which activities help you feel most mindful. Use deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or mindful walks to ground yourself in the present moment and fully embrace the restorative power of rest.
6. Challenge Productivity Culture:
College and professional culture often glorifies busyness and productivity, creating a false sense of guilt when we choose rest. Challenge the notion that your worth is solely based on productivity. Remind yourself that rest is an essential part of being human and that your value extends far beyond what you achieve academically or professionally. Journaling may help you explore where these beliefs came from, help you process your feelings and thoughts connected to rest and productivity, and help you track the outcome of prioritizing rest.
7. Surround Yourself with Supportive People:
Surround yourself with friends, family, or mentors who understand the importance of rest and who support your efforts to prioritize self-care. Seek out individuals who encourage and validate your need for rest, creating a positive and nurturing environment. Follow social media accounts that discuss or demonstrate self-care and unfollow accounts that make you feel pressured to "do more".
8. Practice Self-Compassion:
Be kind to yourself when guilt or self-criticism arises. Practice self-compassion by acknowledging and accepting your feelings without judgment. Treat yourself with the same care and compassion you would offer to a friend. Remind yourself that resting is an act of self-love and a necessary part of maintaining good mental health. Be compassionate and gentle with yourself if feelings of guilt arise, and allow yourself to sit with these feelings until they pass. It may take some practice, but in time you should notice these feelings pass.
9. Utilize Timers:
If you're feeling pressured to be productive, utilizing timers may help you give yourself permission to take breaks and rest. Tell yourself that as soon as the timer goes off you will focus on your tasks, but now is the time to rest. If this is really challenging for you, start small with a 15, 10, or even 5 minute timer and work your way up. Consider how you can utilize this time to truly feel rested. Experiment with this technique and see what works best for you.
Giving yourself permission to rest without guilt is crucial for your mental health and overall well-being as a college student. Remember that rest is not a luxury, but a fundamental part of self-care and productivity. By recognizing the importance of rest, challenging guilt, and prioritizing self-care, you can create a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. Embrace the power of rest and allow yourself the time and space to recharge, rejuvenate, and thrive. After all, you are worthy of it!
Note: This blog post is not intended to replace professional advice. If you are experiencing severe anxiety or mental health issues, it is recommended to consult with a licensed mental health professional. If you are in a crisis, please seek help immediately.
About the author: Sarah Santiago is a licensed professional counselor in Michigan. She provides therapy to Michigan college students and emerging adults (ages 18-29) virtually. Her specialties include helping clients work through anxiety, eating disorders, and improving self-confidence.
Bloom Counseling & Wellness, LLC, est. in 2018Bloom Counseling & Wellness, LLC, est. in 2018Providing anxiety therapy and eating disorder therapy virtually to college students and young adults in Michigan.
Licensed therapist serving all of Michigan, including: Marquette 49855, Houghton 49221, 49931, Gladstone 49837, Negaunee 49855, Ishpeming 49849, 49865, Hickory Corners & South Gull Lake 49060, Bloomfield Hills 48301, 48302, 48304, Oakland County & Birmingham 48009, 48363, Ada, Forest Hills, Grand Rapids, Whitneyville 49301, Novi 48374, Northville 48168, Franklin 48025, Ann Arbor 48104, East Lansing 48824, Mount Pleasant 48859, Kalamazoo 49007, Ypsilanti 48197, Traverse City 49684, 49686, Allendale 49401