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  • Writer's pictureIbiyemi Balogun

Rest is a four-letter word……


To a self-acclaimed control freak that unfortunately struggles with anxiety and uncertainty about the future, rest can sometimes feel like a threat. Did I mention that as much as I might want to deny it, I think I’m a workaholic… this period of rest I’ve been forced into because I’m on stress leave from work has shown just how much I struggle with rest. Like I don’t really know what I’m doing. It feels like punishment lol. When I decided to take this break from work, I was really at my breaking point, and I needed to prioritize my mental health.


So like a self-development junkie, I attempted to “hack” rest. I signed up for ClassPass (a fitness program that allows you access to 1000s of gyms) I told myself I wanted to try kickboxing, pilates, barre, dance, and everything in between. I registered for group counseling at my church and continued my bi-weekly therapy, and on the directive of my doctor, I saw a psychiatrist and DON’T get me started on how many books I bought (3 books). I journaled every feeling, thought, emotion, or anxiety because I now have “ALLLL this time” to work on my mental health. I even took to Instagram to ask people how they “rest” and I got over 20 responses but distilled it down to about 13 rest techniques all compiled in a Google doc titled “stress leave”. If you are not tired already just reading this list then you might also be a workaholic. I was essentially attempting to heal myself in 1 month. As you can imagine, I got burnt out on trying to rest.


It was a setup yall….what actually happened is that I ended up going to only 1 fitness class through Class Pass and honestly slaaaaaaacked on my regular workout routine altogether. All those books are still sitting on my nightstand unopened & collecting dust. I still went to all my therapy and group counseling sessions but the constant “looking at yourself” and “evaluating all your thoughts, emotions etc” got made me so physically tired. So tired, that I now have to take almost daily naps just to get through(THAT is a whole other story). I planned a very stressful birthday weekend; I hosted over 20 people in my building’s party room and then a birthday dinner and honestly, it was A LOT. I am soooo very grateful for all the friends and family that came out, gave gifts, and sent messages but it was truly overwhelming. Not only was it emotionally overwhelming it was physically exhausting….to the point that I woke up on my 31st birthday unable to move my neck to the right. I told you it was a setup, but I didn’t deep that this thing called rest would be so hard.


At this point, you might be like “Ibiyemi, how hard can it be to be off work and just spending time with friends, eating, and sleeping all day?” well let me tell you the story of my first attempt at napping. I was feeling very tired, and I thought to myself, I should go and nap. A normal person would just get up, go lay down in bed, and sleep. Well, that wasn’t my story….I didn’t want to go to my bed. I remember when I was in university and going through a depressive episode where I couldn’t really get out of bed, and what brought me out of it was little steps. Instead of staying in bed all day, I would get up and go to the couch. I just told myself, as long as you are not in bed, you are doing better. Even if you nap on the couch all day that’s better than being in bed. Somewhere along the way, I had associated laying in bed with depression, and consciously or subconsciously I never really allowed myself to be in bed/ in my bedroom during the day. To this day my friends will tell you, I don’t really “chill” in my bed. I always need to have a separate room and natural light in my living situation….even when I lived alone and couldn’t really afford a 1 bedroom, I rented a 1 bedroom instead of a studio apartment because I needed that separation. In my mind, my bedroom is for sleeping at night and nothing else. Anyways back to my story, I finally convinced myself to go to my room to nap because I was so tired. When I got to my room, I decided I wasn’t going to get “under the covers” because I didn’t want to get too comfortable. Well I live in Canada and May is still very cold, so I was literarily shivering for like 10 mins and then I was like “This is stupid Ibiyemi, just get under the covers”. So I conceded and got under the covers but only under 1 condition which was that I would sit up and read a book 😂😂😂. I told yall that I'm a little intense haha (writing this back now I’m actually laughing because why would I put myself under pressure to nap???). Anyways, I start reading and as usual, I start drifting off to sleep and I'm like “No Ibiyemi, stay awake” but I kept drifting so I made another concession. You can lay down but you still have to read, so I did that but continued drifting. Finally, I was asleep but it was that half-sleep. That sleep that you cannot trust because you feel like you should be somewhere; that kind of sleep you have when you are supposed to be going out later but you need a quick nap?? That kind of sleep that you can still hear everything around you?? Yeah, it was pretty shitty sleep lol. So I just decided to get up and out of bed. The whole process took like 45 mins and I was still tired but I couldn’t sleep so I went back to the living room….I WILL say, I have since learned how to take better naps, mostly because I’m usually exhausted and my body has just basically come to collect.


It’s almost like all those times, I just pushed through my workday, my body has been waiting and begging me to rest. Now that my body doesn’t have a strict schedule to follow, I just get very very tired very easily. Like the other day, tried to run errands and I would have typically gone to 3 or 4 stores, but after the second place, I kept yawning so I just went home.


Why am I saying all of this? I think I am writing this as a reminder to myself that I am on a journey to learn how not to live in chronic stress and to allow myself to truly rest. I know that the title of this blog is a little cheeky but honestly rest sometimes feels like VERY hard work. I also need a reminder that rest is good and I’m not a “failure” because I'm trying to rest, no matter how much our society glorifies the grind.


Sooo that’s all; I was just about to type, “if you have suggestions about how to rest, shoot me a message BUT please don’t haha. It defeats the purpose of not taking on too much. If you want to help, just pray for me in this season. I’m actually getting better and now I know that healing is not complete in just 1 month.


Thanks for reading y’all… I’m off to my mid-day nap 😂


Till next time;


Ibiyemi



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