Taking time to rest and why false beliefs may be preventing you from doing so


When you hear about someone taking an extended amount of time off (away from their business or work or even away from their normal family life) is your first reaction along the lines of  “I should be so lucky”? You wouldn’t be alone if it is! During these winter months we may hear people talking about taking time to ‘hibernate’, but for many people the idea of taking time off to “just be” feels like an unattainable dream. After all, even when we are on annual leave or trying to enjoy a weekend, there are still jobs to be done around the house etc.

It is true that taking time to rest is important for mind, body and soul. Rest is healing and our bodies need it to fight off any nasty bugs and ailments, especially during the colder months. It also helps us to reconnect with our authentic self, gain clarity on what is important to us and reflect on what we may need to change in order to move forward. We cannot do any of these things if we are constantly stuck on a hamster wheel of work, housework and caring for others.

But how can we take time to “just be” when there is always so much to do?

One of the first things we can do when we get that feeling of “I just don’t have the time” is to ask ourselves, is this real or is it a false belief? In Byron Katy’s book, The Four Questions she encourages us to ask ourselves:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
  3. What happens when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

Fundamentally, what this helps us to do is recognise potential false beliefs and change a thought into something less restricting. So, in the case of not having time to take time to rest, first and foremost is that really true? Probably not. But when we believe that thought it might shut us off from even considering all the ways in which we can take time to rest, something I’ll get to a little later in this blog. Finally, without the false belief that we don’t have time to rest, we can start to change little things in our lives to ensure that, no matter what, we can always take some time for ourselves, even if that doesn’t look like a whole month off to go into a full hibernation mode! These questions can be used for any thought that is stopping us from doing something we’d like to – and are simple yet powerful.


One thing I often do with my own clients, who are experiencing this kind of mindset, is to take them through the BodyScan to see if we can figure out exactly what has caused the false belief that rest isn’t something they can easily do. For example, not too long ago I was working with a lady who was struggling to take any time for herself. While doing her BodyScan she went back into her childhood and remembered a time when she had been shamed for not ‘doing’ something. This message had followed her into adulthood and caused her to think about all the things she “should be doing” whenever she has a bit of time to herself.


Perhaps you can recall a time when you were told something like “you won’t have any tea until you tidy your room” or “if you don’t look after your little brother/sister you are selfish”.


Once we have recognised that a thought is a false belief, we can start to challenge any blocks that may be preventing us from taking time for ourselves. While it can often feel like we never have time for ourselves, chances are that is not actually true. What is true is that we all have different cycles, and so we must look at what is possible for us. Taking the whole of January off may not be practical for you, like it is for some, but scheduling time for a decent holiday in August might be. On a smaller scale, your mornings may be very busy with the school run, answering emails, housework, or any other responsibilities you may have but taking time to go for a walk, have a relaxing bath, read a book or watch a favourite TV programme in the afternoon or evening may be more feasible for you. Perhaps you could create a new afternoon habit where every day you down tools and spend a little time doing something that is meaningful to you. It doesn’t need to be extravagant!  In fact, when I spoke to one of my colleagues about this, she told me that she makes sure that every day, regardless of what is going on, she gifts herself time to read at least 10 pages of her book, because reading is something she really loves to do. In fact, when you think about it, you may already have certain things scheduled into your days, weeks or months which you consider absolute musts such as beauty treatments or activities that you choose to take part in regularly such as a yoga classes or meditation.

Sometimes, self-care and rest takes a little planning ahead but is usually completely worth it. I recently realised that I would like a relaxing weekend with a good friend of mine without the rushing around either side of our time together. So, I have taken a Wednesday and Monday off from my job at the community farm so that I can enjoy my time with my friend in a more leisurely fashion, I.e. travelling to her on the Wednesday, returning on the Sunday and having the Monday off from work so I can ease into the new week more gently. In preparing for my weekend in this way I can avoid any hectic feelings which can so often take the fun out of an occasion and concentrate on having a really lovely time.


If you had all the time in the world what would you love to do?


This is a good question to ask yourself and while the answer may not be realistic right now, with some planning could give you something to look forward to. Let’s say you’d like to walk the coastal path, not something you can easily decide to just do the next day but certainly something you can take steps to work towards and plan in for the following year. Planning to see one of your dreams come to fruition in this way is another way you can prioritise yourself and your time.

Of course, if you are feeling completely overwhelmed with your day to day responsibilities and you are truly struggling to find a single hour in your day to catch your breath then it may be time to seek support. And this may bring up other stories that you may have. When I have suggested that clients ask for support in cleaning their house, for example, I so often hear how they feel they need to get the house tidy before they can allow anyone else in to help them tidy it! Another thing I hear is, “I’m the only one that knows how to do it so no one can help me”. Again, it’s worth exploring these thoughts with a BodyScan as they could be patterns of behaviour caused by the messages you received in childhood that need to be released, to help you to work through those blocks. I wrote about this in my blog What Holds You Back From Asking for Help When You Feel Stuck.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that there are occasions where the saying “a change is as good as a rest” is spot on. Spending time in a different place can break up our normal way of thinking and help us to consider how we can make changes in our lives that allow us to prioritise ourselves. Back when I had my riding centre I was in a hotel in Egypt and chatting to one of the coaches when he said to me “Rosie, I don’t think you want that riding centre any longer”. While I was there I journaled a lot on this because I knew when I got home and went back to the day to day responsibilities I wouldn’t allow myself to believe that my initial reaction to this comment was “no, I don’t think I do”. But in that space, away from my normal life, I was able to reflect on and explore this truth and work through my fears and blocks that were preventing me from making that change.

The inspiration for this blog has come, in part, from the work I do with my clients and what I hear about their feelings and thoughts around rest and self-care and also from my own personal journey and how it took an injury that forced me to rest and gave me time to reflect to take the necessary action to make the changes in my life that I really desired. You can read more about this here.

If you feel you need help exploring how you can challenge any mental blocks around rest and self-care please do get in touch to see if Emotional Wellbeing Coaching can help you in this.

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