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Why Rest Doesn't Have to be "Productive".

When I was a kid I LOVED reading. Even all the way through high school I would be perfectly happy sitting for hours reading a good fiction series like Harry Potter. But somewhere along the way I stopped reading so much. Why? Because some point I started to believe that every second of my time must be productive. That I shouldn’t be reading a fun fiction book but instead, be using that time to read something to increase my knowledge in my field, or to work on self improvement. Can anyone else relate?


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We live in a society that tells us that our worth comes from our productivity. That even our hobbies and self care/rest practices should be productive and used for self improvement. And to some extent I get it- I’m someone who loves learning and growing and focusing on becoming a better me each day. The problem is when we start to think that this is the only way we can spend our free time and we begin feeling guilt around actually taking time to rest and do something we enjoy just for the sake of fun. And the funny thing is it is actually counter productive, because it leads to burnout and stagnation. For example, these days, it takes me about 2 months to get through a self improvement or educational book, because after a long day of work, I don’t want to do something else that feels like work. I want to rest, I want to check out, I want to have fun. But in my mind, I shouldn’t even start a new fiction book or tv series I want to watch because that would be a “waste of time.” So what do I do? I end up on my phone scrolling through social media or tik tok because I don’t want to pick up the book I’m “supposed” to be reading. Which in turn frequently leaves me feeling drained and guilty for “wasting time”. Where as if I had just allowed myself to read the book I wanted to read, I would have done so and felt refreshed and rested on the other side, and then might actually have the mental energy to read that educational book that I really want to get through. It’s a vicious cycle.

So here’s my question for you- When was the last time you did something with your time just because it was fun and you wanted to? Something that has nothing to do with learning a new skill or becoming a better you. Just something that brings you joy, and leads to feeling like your cup is just a little bit fuller. Without feeling guilty on the other side? If you’re like me, it has probably been a while.


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This month I challenge you (and myself) to find something that you love doing but that’s not necessarily productive, and to do it regularly and without guilt. Maybe it’s reading, maybe it’s playing tennis or golf. Maybe its taking a day to sit on the couch and do nothing but watch your favorite show. Whatever it is, give yourself permission to be unproductive. Because here’s the thing- Rest is rest and it doesn’t always have to be “productive”. We need things in our life that bring us pure joy and re-connect us with our inner child. Yes self improvement is great and can be important part of self care, but don’t let your need to be productive take away the joy in life. You are worthy of pure rest and joy, without feeling any shame or guilt. Maybe that in and of it self is productive enough.

xoxo, Ali


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