On Productivity and Balancing Rest

Productivity Fight

I am going to paint you a quick picture of the space I am currently occupying. It took some internal fight to find the productivity to sit at my desk to write. “What’s the point?” has been going through my head a lot recently. It has felt really difficult to focus for a while. As I write this, I also feel my stomach sinking, chest tightening, and tears welling up. This past week I have been feeling stagnant, stuck, unproductive. I have been feeling like I lost that juice or motivation, and I have been, in a lot of ways, wondering why I am not able to power through this. Why can’t I use my own knowledge of mental health to get myself unstuck? I have been posting tweets that I share with the world, but I realize how much I am sending these messages to myself. (Much like how I have also literally been sending texts to myself after completing the daily meditations in my Calm app with the inspirational quote of the day).

The best example of a total self tweet is my 9/9/20 tweet: 

“Putting this out there because I definitely need to hear it today. Just a PSA that your worth is not dependent, nor defined by your productivity. That goes for today and everyday! #WednesdayThoughts #selfcare #selflove.” 

Also the most apt self Calm app text is definitely:

I truly believe both of these sentiments. However, it is so, so, so, so, so hard to feel that, and allow that compassion to soak into me. I don’t believe I’m alone in this. Many people I work with often report values to me that they, themselves, find a lot of difficulty actually applying to themselves. 

Rest versus Recovery

I have been brought up in a culture where a “hard days work,” meant that I come home physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. This was life as I knew it as a medical social worker and therapist. This way of being was also affirmed by our institution and others that I worked with. I would come home at the end of a day and I wouldn’t have much to offer in ways of connection or emotional labor at the house. Weekends were not necessarily for rest, but rather, for recovery. A majority of my career has been a recovery, survival, productivity struggle. When I left the medical world, I thought that some of this mentality would change. It did. My survival mode has transitioned into creativity, my recovery into vitality. Productivity, however, is that beast that is still entrenched deep in me. It threatens to rob me of the other two healthy shifts that I have experienced. 

That beast rises up often to question whether I am enough. If and when I can have a down day. If and when I can schedule some “me time,” or allow myself to not work on the business every chance I get. Ironically, I know that sitting down to write this is also me working on my business too, but I will put it on record that I initially sat down with the selfish motive to figure my own self out. The act of sitting down to write was also a convenient reminder to schedule a time with my own therapist. So here it is, an ode to reclaiming what we all need. Rest. How might I reclaim that, you ask? 

Finding Balance

  1. Name the productivity beast for what it is —The part of myself that is a shitty manager
  2. Allow myself to feel present with what has been giving me some life during these difficult times. Right now it’s “The Last Dance,” documentary about the Bulls and Michael Jordan. I don’t know why it is giving me so much life, but I am going ahead and going to let myself have it.
  3. Stay connected with my family and friends who are right here for me no matter what condition I am in.
  4. Practice gratitude for what I have, what I have already accomplished, and for being free of an oppressive system that I used to work in. I can change the shitty boss inside of me much easier than a large system.
  5. Get back to relating to my body in a different way. So many feelings and emotions and energy can be stored in our body in different ways. I can’t remember the last time I got some true exercise. I know that I need to feel like I am offering something to the temple that holds me. 

Looking for more?

I hope this post finds you in a space where you also could use the self compassion and a dose of humanity being instilled in your life. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @brbhealth. I tweet primarily about mental health and health related issues. There is also a lot of sarcasm and self deprecation tweets. 

When it comes to this particular topic, do yourself a favor and follow @thenapministry. The Nap Ministry has many daily doses of offering you ways to practice radical self love and rest. Go on. Get yourself a nap. 

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