I have ADHD along with several other neurological and psychiatric disorders which has meant I require more rest breaks during tasks, need to identify obstacles, and learn to prioritize. Understanding our own personal needs is a crucial step in increasing our productivity as we can’t accommodate problems we haven’t familiarized ourselves with.
For myself, I know I’m becoming overwhelmed and need to do something else when my skin starts itching underneath and I begin grinding my teeth. Noticing physical indications of stress will help avoid overload and meltdowns. Pushing yourself too far will never be productive— it’s quicker and easier to recharge if you still have some energy reserves left than if you burn yourself out. Don’t wait until it’s too late, let yourself choose to take a break rather than need one.
‘I’m lazy, I’m a burden, I’m worthless’, be aware of these notions. Internalized ableism can cause shame and stigmatized thoughts, this is problematic for people who aren’t disable as well and are symptomatic of an inhumane capitalist system. Everyone deserves rest. No one should be pushed too far. We all need to take care of our bodies and minds.
All rest is productive, spendings days in bed and leaving your dishes dirty for weeks is a sign there is an issue with your physical or mental health and steps should be taken to ease your suffering with medical treatment and to gain help and support from your loved ones. You are not unproductive because you’re experiencing symptoms. Your body and mind are trying to protect you, heal you, though sometimes maladaptively.
As we begin learning about ourselves and negotiating with our states of being, we start to rework our life and how we function. We learn different ways to rest and recharge to maintain our energy levels without initiating downward spirals.
What is a downward spiral? Ruminating thoughts of guilt, shame, worthlessness, these self deprecating notions are unproductive and are self sabotaging self harm. They are symptoms to be acknowledged and healed like any other.
Without further ado, let me present five ways to rest productively.
- Acknowledge all rest is productive. A long nap, a movie marathon, playing a video game all day, you are recuperating and it’s time to acknowledge your needs. The only thing that’s unproductive in hating yourself and believing this is all you’ll ever be capable of. Recovery doesn’t mean belittling ourselves for what we do, but instead realizing we do what we do for a reason. If you sleep for twenty hours and still feel tired, you are still tired. You aren’t lazy.
- Don’t lie to yourself about how much time you require to rest. Be proactive in working out relevant deadline extensions, event cancellations, communication with people in your life, scheduling of your day, and delegating responsibilities. Don’t avoid difficult conversations with yourself and others.
- Keep an inventory of hobbies and interests that you can engage in during your off time. Identify activities that make you feel badly about yourself and work to replace them with equally revitalizing alternatives, ergo rather than watching an entertainment show, watch a documentary about something you’re fascinated by, or instead of playing a video game perform a low energy but fun hobby such as doodling, knitting, etc that gives you a sense of accomplishment. When in the depths of depression we may feel disinterested in these sorts of activities but often it’s more a disinterest in initiating, if we focus our limited energy on one small push often we will find ourselves remembering why we enjoyed these hobbies.
- Plan your breaks. Whether that means planning five minutes doing dishes and fifteen minutes reading a magazine, or switching between tasks at work every ten minutes, or planning a couple days every week where you have no expectations of yourself, or scheduling a weeklong vacation for just bumming around the house, be intentional about when you rest or change things up. Take control of your recuperation.
- Change your environment. If you usually nap in bed, try napping on the couch. Whenever you feel physically up to it, get outside for even just a few minutes and breathe the fresh air. Spent your resting time in a different room or place in a room than you usually do. Stagnation is often what triggers negative feelings within us, giving our brain that sense of change can break circuitous thoughts. Even when resting we can become overstimulated by our constant environment which causes stress and anxiety, even something as simple as changing my blanket out for a different one or turning the lights on or off can help make my rest more productive.