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exploring rest + recovery

Tiredness walked along my eyes ---------------------------------- with secrets. ---------------------------------- I got enough rest - in hours ---------------------------------- But rest isn’t something for everyone.

Sleep has often met my need for rest, but last year, i found myself burnt out.

I found that it didn’t matter how much i slept, i was still exhausted.

What i didn’t realise was that being part of a project where i cannot step back from responsibility is an incredibly exhausting thing for me, and no matter how much i slept, what i really needed was to be irresponsible, to spend

time away, where i could fully focus on my self and what i needed.

So i decided to take some time off to recover.

Just as I was making this decision, I found a post on Instagram


"Nine types of rest" which is based on Enneagram types. It helped me to question some of my assumptions about rest.

It helped me to understand that the reason I was so exhausted was not because i hadn’t been sleeping enough, but because I hadn't been taking care of all of the different types of rest i needed.

  • I needed to be irresponsible.

  • I needed to be alone.

  • I needed space from relationships I was struggling with, to be able to work out what was going on for me.

  • I needed time away.

  • I needed to be away from spaces that exacerbated my trauma responses.

  • I needed space to process my emotions.

It can be really fucking hard to rest when living in a capitalist system, hard to take time off, when there are expectations flying at us from everywhere.

So I decided to put together my own list...

My resting needs.


(specifically silent meditation retreats) offer me many types of rest: time away from talking and being sociable. A lot of space to process emotions and build awareness of emotional patterns. A break from the internet, phone, computers, work, shopping, cooking, making decisions, etc. A place to build internal resource and connection, a link into my spirituality

---- I need to do this every other month, whether its a short solo retreat or a longer teacher led one.


being alone, not having to think about anybody else, not having to respond, not having to do anything i don’t want to do for fear/guilt/expectation of anything.

---- I need this pretty much every day, even if its for a few hours. I also really appreciate solitary retreats, they can be challenging but rewarding to find out who i am when i am not constantly navigating the world of relationship.


is a relief, to be outside, in a landscape, connecting to the earth, the beings who live on earth and the sky, whether it’s sleeping out under the stars, an afternoon slumber in the forest, a long wild walk in the wind, alone or with others, it can recharge, refresh, enliven, nature is rest.

---- I need this every day, even in small doses, even if its just sitting in the garden to say hi to the birds and the moon or going for a small walk.


are so important, and so good. I love letting everything go for the day and getting lost in the night. Naps can be the best, for pure pleasure, or for catching up on sleep.

---- I need this EVERYDAY! Sleep at least, and I love to nap too, generally i eed around 8-9 hours of sleep a night, I can thrive of off 7 1/2 hours in the summer, with naps.


is vital, when i don’t get to process emotions, work out whats going on and find ways to untangle the messiness that triggers and reactions and trauma can build, i don’t function in ways that express how i want to show up in the world. Even just being aware of how I am can help. Meditation and retreats are my main way to do this, so are check ins, with others and my self. Journaling and creating art are amazing ways to do this. And finding support from a friend who is willing to listen.

---- I need this every day, in different ways, sometimes I need a lot of this and sometimes less.


While i want to be able to appreciate people in their differences, I seem to hold an internal belief that i‘should' be able to hang out with whoever, whenever for an unlimited amount of time. I can’t do this. I nd up having to avoid people as i don’t have the emotional capacity to be around them any more. When I am well resourced i can spend time with anyone, and am able to share how their actions impact me. I cannot be well resourced if i spend a lot of time around people who trigger me, especially when there is trauma involved. I find this to be true especially amongst people who have privilege. And especially around men who are often unaware of the effect their actions can have.

---- I need to be reflecting on my relationships often, how they are serving me, where i need space, having clear boundaries and limiting time with some people.


to be clear about and communicate: what i need; when something is not ok for me and i’m not willing to do it; how long i can be around people until i need space etc.

---- This is an ongoing process, Some boundaries are strong and lasting, some seem to come and go like waves.


taking time off, a day, a week, a month, a year?!?! Time to relax, rest, to be ill, to have a breakdown, to get creative, to question, to learn something else, to ask whats next.


from anything can be so helpful to reflect on what i love about something and what i don't, where i need to make changes and establish boundaries. It can be hard to eflect in these ways in the midst of something, especially if it involves difficult emotions and relationships.

---- This is relevant in certain situations, and it can be hard to remember to do this.


is a way to create space, to drop into my body and to move away from avoidance of emotions, a way to build my capacity to support myself and others, it creates a bit more space in my day to be able to respond to things rather than react.

---- I need to do this every day.


can be so deeply restful, to have safe body contact, to cuddle, to be close to people. Sometimes my body asks for this, craves it: whether its snuggling up to a friend whilst watching a film, linking arms whilst walking down the street, spending the night sleeping close with a friend or lover, cuddles with cats, it’s rest.

---- I need to have regular safe body contact that comes from different people.


can be so helpful if its done skilfully. Like watching TV when i feel like shit and just need a break, its great way to rest, as long as its part whole system that is also focused on processing emotions. (Sometimes i go to distraction for too long, it becomes avoidance and my series watching addiction kicks in, this is not so fun. and much more stressful than restful.)

---- I need this sometimes, maybe on average once a week, with an awareness of addictive patterns.


like no cooking, people to look after, things to have to think about, “permission to be not helpful”. Working in a job = going home and not having to do anything related to that job. At home = letting everyone know I am not doing anything today, asking for support in this.

---- This is relevant when I am holding a lot of responsibilities,

Here are some important questions to consider...

  • What types of rest do you need?

  • How often do you need them?

  • How do you build these things into your life?

  • What things do you believe about yourself when you make space to rest?

  • How do you start to unbind the narrative that you "should' be doing things all the time to prove your worth?

If i slow down, life around slows down too.

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