How to Recharge When You’re Feeling Restless
“But someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” — C.S. Lewis
Figuring out how to rest wasn’t always a challenge for me.
When I was little, summer afternoons were spent living out my fantasies of being a little pioneer girl. Obsessed with the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, no one could have convinced me that being a pioneer wasn’t the dream… that in reality, I’d likely go hungry when some blight overtook our crops, that I’d worry about now-common diseases wiping out my family, or that I’d be trapped inside cross-stitching for months because of a frigid and long winter. Lack of supplies, diseases, boredom… hmm.
I would live out my pioneer girl dreams in the back room of my parents’ office, a pack of ramen wrapped in a handkerchief as my rations for the journey. I hopped from chair to chair, avoiding obstacles on the trail west. And when I got tired or I’d eaten all my ramen, I’d find a spot to curl up in and read until I fell asleep. I passed countless afternoons like that, never with a thought that I was wasting my time.
When you spend your days and nights in the same square footage and little relief, it can be hard to transition from working to resting to sleeping. And I’ve wrestled with the fact that I don’t really know how to rest well.
I can binge TV, I can watch endless instagram stories, I can explore the internet to my heart’s content… but somehow I often leave more drained. Even my “resting time” feels like it needs to be productive — get through that book, organize my haphazard Pinterest boards, fold my laundry while watching a movie, go for a hike so I can get some exercise. What happened to the days when playing and resting didn’t feel like work?
Maybe a look into the past can help us learn what gives us life. Before screens & productivity became a part of the equation — what did you love to do? What used to captivate and inspire you as a child? What brought you so much joy that you could spend a whole afternoon immersed without looking at the clock or thinking about your to-do list?
I’ve been thinking about this recently. For me, I loved reading. I also loved creating. What gave me life was getting lost in a story or an idea and then letting my mind run with it, create something with it, or bring it to life. It’s why I made the long journey west each day, why when I learned about poetry I decided to write an A-Z poetry book. Why after observing my parents at work I decided to start my own business (“Muscle Town” — we offered by-the-minute massages, ran specials during the holidays and put out coupon books that, let’s be honest, would not be honored).
What captured your attention as a child? How did you have fun? And what about it captivated you? Maybe you loved riding your bike — what did you love about it? The feeling of going fast, getting to explore new places, or visiting friends around your block? Maybe you built cities out of Legos. Did you like designing the city? Or was what you enjoyed the satisfaction of building something with your hands? It may be a half-formed memory at first, but keep asking, “Why did I enjoy that so much?”
Chances are it will lead you to your rest. Asking this question is why I dug my library card out of an old wallet. And why I devoted more time to writing.
As you’re stuck inside, before you turn on the TV, maybe pause and remember your first loves. Dust them off the shelf, or figure out what the slightly grown-up version looks like. I hope it brings you rest and a little bit of childlike joy.