Rest is NOT Optional

Today, after I put Vera down for her morning nap, I didn’t lace up my running shoes. I didn’t turn on a workout video. I didn’t run around working on the myriad, never-ending chores waiting for me. Instead, I took a long, hot shower, put on clean PJs, and crawled back into bed.

I don’t think I actually slept. I’m a terrible napper. But it was a much-needed respite for my brain and body. I’ve been feeling incredibly worn down lately, and it’s no surprise. I’ve been running 3-4 times a week, doing yoga and strength training. I’ve been rehearsing for my show, staying up past my bedtime a couple of times a week. I’m still only sleeping in 3-4 hour chunks. I’ve been cooking and cleaning and trying to have a social life. And quite frankly, it’s all been a bit too much. While I’m not actually sick, it feels like it. My singing is suffering and my workouts are feeling exhausting.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that I’m only seven months postpartum. Only seven months removed from growing my baby and pushing her out of my body. While I wish I were at 100% of my pre-pregnancy energy and endurance, that’s far from the case. Most days, I feel a bone-deep exhaustion that never quite goes away.

It’s frustrating not to feel like myself most days. I don’t think I’ll get back to normal until I finish with breastfeeding. And that’s ok. I’m fighting against the nasty voice in my head that tells me I’m not doing enough. I’m ignoring the ever-present social media messages of “No excuses!” and “Never miss a Monday!” and “I lost all my baby weight working out 20 minutes a day and you can too!” and all of the other crap that I see telling me I can and should do it all.

Instead, I’m remembering that I am Vera’s primary source of nutrition, and if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of her. I’m remembering that I get to determine what fitness looks like for me. I’m remembering that the overall picture of health has to include mental health. I’m remembering that rest is necessary. My body was telling me in no uncertain terms today that I needed to take it easy, so I did. And I don’t feel a single iota of guilt or regret.

How I’m feeling today is also an indicator to me that I need to clean up my social media follows. I don’t need help feeling guilty. I don’t need to see images and messages that make me feel bad. I shouldn’t have to type this, but I’m going to anyway: it’s OK to rest. It’s OK not to work out if you are sick, if you are tired, if you just don’t fucking feel like it. Giving your body the rest it needs is just as important as doing the work.

Do you ever feel like you need to force yourself to rest?

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