A key element of being a disruptor for 4iforum is to be conscious and curious about the language that people use during dialogue. The language we use creates meaning, and a shared understanding within our culture, whether that is in our organisation or society at large.
Within our lockdown bubble, there has been a push back about the toxic productivity that is being promoted with many people sharing their “be your best self” activity, which makes us all feel guilty that we haven’t written a book, painted all the walls in our house with amazing motives, or taken part in weekly quizzes and sing a longs. For many, the fact that we get up in the morning, get dressed and start our day at 9am is an achievement. Home educating two kids with autism, whilst both my husband and I try to work full time, and I my involvement in kicking off the 4iforum as well as the additional stressors of lockdown has been exhausting.
With it being half term this week, my family have decided to take a break – we can’t go on holiday but we can walk away from the routine. So I spent this weekend “doing nothing” and “being lazy.”
That language is loaded with negative connotations. Even the word lockdown is taking something away from us rather than adding an important layer of protection for our nation. Social distancing is a nonsequitur, because in reality I have had more social time in lockdown than I did before lockdown. I zoom, facetime and video call my family, friends and colleagues more than ever before, and I have more family time in one week than I probably managed in a month. Physical distancing yes, but not social distancing.
During a Whatsapp conversation with my friend whilst I was “lazing in bed” yesterday afternoon I had a moment of revelation that the way we talk about rest is that we are somehow taking away from what we should be doing. I have a clear memory of reading a Toad and Frog story in which Frog told Toad, who was not doing his chores “Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today.” What a powerful lesson I took from that. I can’t leave something undone. I feel guilty if I am “slobbing out” and “binge-watching” a box set.
But in feeling guilty about resting and eating up my time getting things done, what I am leaving undone is my wellbeing, my physical rest and recuperation. You can’t improve your wellbeing if you spend time when you should be sleeping with thoughts whirring around your head. I struggle to sit still when I can see something that needs to be done.
Resting is hard work. Taking time to invest in our wellbeing needs to be intentional, organised and purposeful – and in doing more of it. In being deliberate about prioritising our well being we become empowered to function to our full potential, more productive in our work and resilient to stress. We become MORE when we DO rest.
So lets change the language we use to describe rest. I have asked my friend to be my learning buddy, to check in with each other to reframe how we talk about rest and positively investing in time for our wellbeing, because wellbeing is something we should all prioritise and invest time in.