What I'm Learning About Restorative Rest
I will my stiff knees to bend, give my earbuds a twist, and begrudgingly start jogging. I'm mentally elsewhere; I'm close enough to home to turn back now and start an episode or five of New Girl. There's ice cream in the freezer and stretchy pajamas in my closet and I'm pretty sure they're calling my name. But I keep going anyway, telling myself: I need to rest.
Because that's why I'm "running" (quotation marks necessary for lack of speed) while pregnant. That's why I run at all. It helps me authentically rest.
Once I hit a certain point in my run—a mile in or so—I'm there. My mind is clear. My body is warm. My breath is deep and cleansing—the kind of breathing that loosens your chest and feels like opening a window in a stuffy room. Birds warbling, insects buzzing, the river gurgling—a balm for my frayed body and mind. For me, this is restorative rest.
With this pregnancy and this season, I have overwhelming tasks ahead. We're undertaking a home addition to make our house family-of-four ready (since it's currently smaller than 800 square feet). Both of us are working. My husband is a year away from finishing his rigorous master's program. We're parenting a rambunctious toddler. And besides all of that, we'll need to squeeze in preparing for this baby.
I have to-do lists crowding my vision. But sometimes, my body and my mind won't let me do one more task. These are the moments I need rest.
Too often, I choose to "rest" in ways that aren't restorative: Netflix, junk food, staying up late scrolling Facebook. I tell myself I just need to "veg;" that I'll stop after this episode; that I'm pregnant and I deserve it. And in moderation, these avenues of checking out can be necessary. But they're never restorative. After a binge on Netflix or a few too many handfuls of leftover chips and salsa, I'm anything but restored.
What I'm learning during this pregnancy is that restorative rest takes work—and I desperately need it. For me, restorative rest is not mindless consumption. It's either mindful creativity, real self-care, or movement.
That's why I'm running at 15 weeks pregnant. That's why I'm choosing salad over nachos for lunch. That's why I'm reading challenging books instead of watching mindless comedies. I need restorative rest. Every parent—every person—does.
Get some rest today. Put down the laptop, stop the scrolling, disconnect. Do whatever it is that feeds your soul. Create, sing, garden, run. You need it.