Dear AmazeWorks community,
As the year comes to an end, we experience fewer hours of daylight and colder temperatures. It’s as if the sky turns off the lights, encouraging an earlier bedtime and begging us to wrap ourselves in a blanket. The winter practically begs us to rest.
Nature listens. Bears go into hibernation. Squirrels spend more time in the trees, eating nuts they hid during the fall season. Deciduous trees drop their leaves to expend less energy.
But humans? Most of us stick to the same schedule, expecting the same energy levels from ourselves and each other as any other time of the year. We hold ourselves to the standards dictated by white supremacy culture that value work and productivity over rest and wellbeing. We don’t hibernate or drop our leaves. We don’t adjust our daily schedules with the rhythm of the seasons. We simply keep going.
So how can we embrace the winter and engage in rest? When we think about rest, we often think simply of physical rest–things like napping, sleeping, and sitting. According to Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, sleep is not enough for us to be well-rested. She outlines seven different types of rest.
- Mental rest – How many consecutive hours are you thinking, working, and producing? Our brains need breaks from productivity. Dr. Dalton-Smith shares that a constantly racing mind that struggles to take in new information or fall asleep at night is a sign of a mental rest deficit. Take a few minutes every so often to pause, close your eyes, and take deep breaths to help build in mental rest to your work day.
- Spiritual rest – This type of rest involves thinking beyond the mental and the physical. Dr. Dalton-Smith also defines it as feeling a deep sense of belonging, acceptance, and purpose. Examples of engaging in spiritual rest can include prayer, meditation, or community involvement. What helps connect you with the earth and beyond?
- Social rest – What relationships drain us and what relationships fill us up? In addition to balancing time alone with time spent with others, social rest applies to how much energy our social relationships require from us. Have conversations with supportive people in your social circles, whether that is virtually or in person.
- Emotional rest – It can be exhausting to put on a performance of consistent emotional wellness. We’re not always feeling well or even okay. To engage in emotional rest, we could respond truthfully to the question, “How are you?”, recognizing that the answer may not always be positive. Holding emotional stress on your own is draining, and it can be restful to share feelings and experiences with others.
- Sensory rest – How activated are your senses throughout the day? How much time do you spend staring at screens or trying to ignore background noises and conversations? When our senses constantly take in stimuli, they become overwhelmed. Take a few minutes throughout your day to quiet your senses by closing your eyes or going on a phone-free walk. Try to intentionally unplug during the hours you’re not working.
- Creative rest – Dr. Dalton-Smith describes this type of rest as one that “reawakens the childlike wonder and awe inside each of us.” Are there points in the day that you’re able to admire the beauty of local parks or of your favorite pieces of art? Is there visual inspiration around you, or are there bare walls? If you are straining to find creative energy, try reading a new poem or listening to a new song to refresh your spirit.
- Physical rest – And of course, physical rest tends to the body. We need both passive rest, like sleeping and napping, and active rest, like stretching or yoga. Listen to signs from your body, such as soreness or sickness, that it needs physical rest. What would help rejuvenate it?
- What Are the 7 Types of Rest? Experts Explain | Bustle
- Rest as Resistance: Why Nap Ministry and Others Want Black People to Sleep | Complex
- Rest Supports Grieving: Grief Rituals | The Nap Ministry
- Don’t Underestimate the Power of Rest | Learning for Justice
- Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers | Family Caregiver Alliance
The Rest is Resistance framework centers Black liberation, womanism, somatics, and Afrofuturism. In her book, Tricia Hersey (also known as The Nap Bishop) explores the power of rest as a tool for liberation and rejection of white supremacy culture. She encourages readers to reevaluate their relationships with rest and productivity. This book and The Nap Ministry uplift a movement that centers wellbeing. “Rest Is Resistance is a call to action, a battle cry, a field guide, and a manifesto for all of us who are sleep deprived, searching for justice, and longing to be liberated from the oppressive grip of Grind Culture.”
AmazeWorks Ethos in Action
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith differentiates between passive and active physical rest. Stretching is a form of active physical rest that has many benefits for your body. After long periods of sitting during our workshops, AmazeWorks often leads this Social Justice Stretch from Nexus Community Partners and shared by Nonkululeko Shongwe. While structuring moments of active physical rest into our workshops, this activity also invites reflection on the structures we participate in throughout our daily lives.
- Touch your toes –Reach down to get power from the grassroots.
- Arms up – Reach up to the sky to the ancestors for inspiration.
- Shake! – Shake off dominant western cultural expectations of individualism, productivity, and perfectionism.
- Twist – Move with the winds of change.
- Chest out and reach arms wide – Shine your superpower into the world!