I can’t tell you how often I hear this.
You can’t rest.
You try to kick back with a book, but your mind keeps spinning asking you to do something before you can rest.
Yet, you are too tired to do it, and you can’t do that task your mind wants you to do very well.
So you stay on the couch.
Now the thoughts are so distracting that you can’t read.
So you scroll on your phone, or you check out with the TV remote in your hand.
And later, exhausted, depleted, you find yourself at the fridge, eating again, even though you are not hungry.
And you call that emotional eating.
It should be called “tired, but can’t rest” eating, I think.
So what the heck? Why does that happen?
Why can’t we DO LESS and just BE MORE?
And why is this state of rest such a mirage, so hard to attain, why do we have to work so damn hard to give ourselves permission to rest?
You can argue it’s because it’s tied to our sense of worth and value, that many of us want to prove ourselves worthy of resting, that we have created a story in our minds of who has the right to rest and who does not. There are many theories we can weave around the whys…from gender and social roles, to our upbringing and how we learned from our parents.
But there is a biological piece here, a preverbal piece, a piece around the environment in which we developed.
Many of us didn’t grow up in environments that facilitated the ability to drop easily into rest and digest – that juicy, delicious state of the nervous system where we can recover, restore, digest our food and get the energy for our next move.
Some of us grew up in dangerous environments – a family, socioeconomic, even political reality, where rest and digest was not a state anyone around could easily drop into.
If that early organizing piece is missing, if our bodies have not learned as young as when we were developing in our mother’s wombs what rest and restoration means and how to physically drop there, we will always go to our thoughts to try to find a plan of rest.
We will always go to food as a way to force rest and digest onto a system that doesn’t know how to organically go there.
Learning how to rest is not about a social revolution, it’s not an act of rebellion against the status quo. It’s a lot simpler – recognizing that your system doesn’t know how to do something that is its birthright, and then teaching it how to do it one simple action at a time.
The next time you find yourself unable to rest, remember this – it is your BODY that needs to learn how to relax, NOT your mind. Once your body settles, your mind will always follow.