We live in a go go go society. We always feel like we should be doing something, whether it’s completing the next project on our to-do list, doing some sort of self-improvement, or keeping our social battery charged (yes, even for introverts).
For some people, keeping busy is great! When we intentionally put our minds and bodies into activities that we enjoy, it can feel fulfilling, productive, and rewarding. However, the line between positive productivity and burnout can blur pretty quickly, especially when considering that we live in a culture that encourages keeping busy and shames taking longer breaks and anything considered to be “lazy.”
Adolescents are impressionable and can be severely pressured to keep up with this mindset. The line blurs even more when factoring in mental health and illness as well. For example, those with mental illnesses may choose to be busy as a coping mechanism because they’re afraid of being left alone with their thoughts when doing nothing, but that just makes the crash when they’re inevitably by themselves that much harder. Others may benefit from having an organized schedule and always having something planned, but missing one task or having something disrupted can make the organizer feel guilty and spiral.
Now that we’re in the midst of summer, your child may feel like you’re “allowed” to be lazy right now and taking some time for themselves. However, breaks, rest, and “laziness” aren’t restricted to just three months out of the year. Try to remind them (and practice yourself) that it’s always important to give yourself a break – and for those who do keep schedules and their days well-organized, may already have this factored in as a recharge time before going back to their day. But when it comes to rest though, try to keep two things in mind:
First, rest looks different not just for everyone, but you may need different kinds of rest depending on how you’re feeling. You may choose to go for a walk in the middle of the day if your eyes are physically strained from looking at a screen constantly, or you may need to watch a few episodes of your favorite show if your busyness puts you in a bad mood. Naps are never a bad thing – in fact, they can be beneficial! – so if you can find a time to factor those in too, try to do so.
Second, listen to your body. You may designate a time to take a break, but you shouldn’t sacrifice and push yourself through tasks if you’re feeling exhausted or experiencing any signs of burnout. If you have the opportunity to take a break where you go to school and/or work, see if you email your boss, teacher, and/or professor stating that you need an afternoon, day, or even a couple of days off. If not, the next time you’re free, try to rest how you feel is best for you. You may feel guilty, but give yourself some grace and do your best to remind yourself that the more you resist your body’s warnings, the worse off you’ll feel the next time something like this happens.
Do you like being busy? Is your child busy? How is rest seen in your household?