Why You Should Have Proper Rest on Your Off Days
by Farah Saleem. |
Crusty eyes. Draggy, feeling lifeless..
These are all the classic symptoms of experiencing burnout. The zombification of a person who has not gotten enough rest, who insisted on hustling through the weekend, holding on to a mantra perpetuated by a capitalist society: sleep is for the weak.
We’re no stranger to hustle culture. However, more and more people are suffering from burnout as a direct result of it. A quick Google search defines burnout as ‘a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress’. Interestingly, burnout is not confined to people who hate their jobs, as one may think. Even people who are burningly passionate about what they do can suffer from it. It can affect anyone, from office workers to college students alike. It doesn’t discriminate.
Personally, I’ve suffered burnout from trying to juggle studies and extracurriculars in university. It had gotten to a point where I felt if I had to deal with one more thing on my plate, my mental health would take a turn for the worse. On top of getting less than 5 hours of sleep a day and having full days of classes every day (I’m a pharmaceutical student), I was volunteering for a student association and stretching myself thin managing events.
Even though the work I was doing was fulfilling, I felt constantly irritable. I am also an introvert, and being around people for most of my days, having no time to sit and reflect had a major adverse effect on me. By the time the event rolled around, everything that went wrong (in my eyes) was like a sledgehammer to the face and I didn’t have the mental clarity to solve problems as well as I would’ve liked. The brain fog was real, and my body felt like a punching bag a 200-pound emotionally repressed dudebro had pummeled.
I know now that I should have reserved time off for myself to recuperate and allow myself room and time to relax and think through everything so it wouldn’t snowball. I should have realized that if I didn’t rest properly, an avalanche was imminent.
Here are some things that would have thoroughly helped me at the time, and things I try to hold on to now:
1. Spend time with yourself
This is the number 1 thing that did it for me. As an introvert, I would only feel rejuvenated and like myself again if I had enough space and a whole day to myself. Having friends around can be fun, but a lot of the time it takes effort to be social. When you’re suffering from burnout, hanging out with a loud group of friends could be the last thing you would want to do.
I'm sure we know that feeling after having an eventful weekend, it's Sunday night and.. you still feel tired - it's as if you didn't have a break. Sometimes we just need to be alone, at our safe space just to recharge and let your body rest.
2. Reflect and journal
If you’re having a rough day or week, the best way to get it all out is to find an outlet for your emotions. For me, it’s journaling. It’s always a huge relief whenever I get the words out onto paper. A lot of the time, people feel guilty for feeling emotionally wound up. Seeing your feelings in words can feel validating. You’d be inclined to work through your emotions in a healthier manner instead of repressing them.
3. Do the things you enjoy
Now, I’m not saying you still have to DO things when the whole point of this article is to encourage you to rest. However, I do find that doing things I enjoy such as going grocery shopping, working out or even just watching my favourite movie can be immensely therapeutic and relaxing. Find the thing that you feel completely at peace doing, and schedule time off for yourself to do that thing on your off days.
4. Get enough sleep
Sleep is extremely, extremely important to keep you functioning efficiently. There have been countless studies on it, and everyone stresses its importance be it in memory retention, clarity or overall health. A recent study suggests that our bodies clear toxins out of our brains when we sleep, which suggests it could prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
5. Practice mindfulness and gratitude
Now, this is something I struggle with. I’ve watched numerous videos and followed way too many lifestyle gurus to know that practising mindful meditation even for a minute every day can improve mental clarity and make you feel calmer. Matt D’Avella on YouTube did a video on this where he meditated for an hour a day for 30 days. I know that sounds a little much, but Matt said he felt significantly better after doing it. You don’t have to do a whole hour—even 2-3 minutes of blocking off all outside stimuli and focusing on your breathing, letting your thoughts flow can do wonders for your mental health.
6. Try to avoid doing work
Although it can be sometimes inevitable, try your best to avoid checking work-related emails on your days off. Instead, unplug, focus on your surroundings and allow yourself to just ‘be’. You are more than your work. It is just a part of your life—letting yourself be consumed by it can make you feel like just a cog in a machine, and it’ll accelerate the feeling of burning out. Just like how you need to recharge your body, you would also need to recharge mentally as well.
You may find out more about Farah on her Instagram as well.