Meditation teacher and speaker Giselle La Pompe-Moore shared her thoughts on why so many women feel guilt around rest at this year’s Stylist Restival – and it was a truly eye-opening talk.
It’s a typical Tuesday night, and you’ve just finished cleaning up after dinner. The fairy lights are on, the big light is off and the sofa sinks around you as you curl up under your favourite blanket – the moment you’ve been looking forward to all day. But just as you start to get comfortable, you feel a little niggle in the back of your head.
In your bedroom, you’ve got a pile of laundry waiting to be folded and put away. There are more emails waiting to be answered in your inbox. And you still need to reach out to that friend you were supposed to see weeks ago. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get the feeling that you should be doing *something* out of your head – and before long, you give up on the restful evening you had planned.
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Despite rising levels of burnout and exhaustion, many of us find it impossible to switch off, even after we’ve spent a long day at work. For women in particular, rest has become something associated with guilt – a state that reminds us of all the things we haven’t done.
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Even at a time when more of us are paying attention to our wellbeing – of which rest is a key component – we feel the need to justify our rest: to ‘earn’ it. But where do all these complicated feelings about rest actually come from?
According to Giselle La Pompe-Moore, a meditation teacher, speaker and author of Take It In, the answer lies in the emphasis society places on the value of being ‘busy’. Speaking at Stylist Restival on Sunday (26 February), La Pompe-Moore spoke about how our admiration for being busy is getting in the way of our ability to rest.
“I always say we’re living in the epidemic of busyness,” she explained. “When you message your friend – ‘I’m so busy’ – you get a huge amount of validation from that, right? We love to hear how busy we are.
“But I think when we stop believing that the pinnacle of our human existence is how busy we are, we can take a step back from that. Because ultimately, we’ll always find it really difficult to rest or be still when we celebrate busyness – when it becomes such a huge part of our language to honour that and say, ‘Yes, I’m busy and I’m therefore successful.’”
It’s this admiration and respect for busyness which has led to so many of us feeling guilty when we rest, La Pompe Moore explains. After all, when we’re told that being busy is one of the most valuable and useful things we can be, taking a step back and not doing that take its toll on our self-worth.
“If everyone around us is telling us to work hard, then coming off that cycle makes you question who you are,” she said. “We feel a huge amount of guilt from taking time back and then we feel guilty because resting doesn’t feel good – it feels unfamiliar. But if we’re always doing in life, then being is going to feel very difficult.”
She continued: “We’ve forgotten how to be with ourselves. So, when we do have those moments to breathe, to just take things in, all of our thoughts come up and we start to think about our to-do list and what we want to have for dinner, instead of just allowing ourselves to be here.”
Knowing that society’s obsession with busyness could be to blame for your inability to rest makes sense – but it doesn’t make it any easier. So how can you improve your ability to rest? The key, according to La Pompe-Moore, is practice. In the same way that practising how to ride a bike or cook a meal helps you improve, so too does flexing your rest muscles and choosing to take time for yourself.
“I don’t know how to drive, so the idea that I could just go out and drive a car tomorrow is impossible, because I have no practice,” she explained.
“However, if you drive all the time, you know how to do it. So if you’re not resting continuously or prioritising that, it’s not going to feel easy – we have to go back to basics and remind ourselves how to do that.”
So, next time you’re getting frustrated at yourself for your inability to switch off, remember that it’s not your fault – and give yourself space to practise your ability to rest. Busyness has ruled our lives for a long time now, so switching off isn’t going to happen overnight. But if you give yourself permission to step away from the busyness cycle – even for just a minute to start with – you’ll slowly find a way to bring rest into your life: without any of the guilt or discomfort.
Images: Getty/Bronac McNeill
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