In Defense of Rest…Again

someone lying on a beach
Photo by Dan Burton on Unsplash

I published this on Medium this morning. I decided to copy and paste it here as well.

A while back I write the below article defending rest. I wrote it after the news of some school systems ending snow days now that remote school is a thing.

In Defense of Rest
I knew it was coming. I knew online school would lead to the end of the snow day. New York schools have no announced…

I read the advice columns in the Washington Post every day. Sometimes I can relate to the people who write in and I am curious to see what advice is given. Sometimes, I get a writing idea from the letter. Today is one of those days.

Someone wrote into Ask Amy. She is in her late 60s and retired. She says she has created a rule that reading during the day is acceptable, but that watching TV during the day, even if it is a “good show”, is the behavior of somone who has given up on life. She doesn’t want to become someone like her elderly aunt who watched soap operas during the day.

I was hoping the advice might follow my thoughts of defending rest. Instead, Amy writes about how this reminded her of how her mom would put the ironing board in front of the TV and iron while watching Edge of Night. Amy says that she now does the same. She turns on the streaming services while she does chores. So, the advice was “It will feel OK to watch TV as long as you are busy while doing it”

I’m not arguing with that point. I do fold clothes while watching TV. If I had a lot of ironing to do I would also likely want to set it up where I could watch TV while doing it. It’s not terrible advice.

I do wish, though, that instead of leaning into the need to be busy to justify something you enjoy that she would have advised her to revise her thinking about what it means to have “given up” 

How does watching a TV show you enjoy when it is light outside giving up? 

Why is reading OK, but something else you enjoy not?

Why do we feel the need to alway be busy, even in retirement?

Why can’t we just give ourselves permission to rest?

We need to learn to not judge ourselves or others for stopping and doing something just for fun, even if that is watching a TV show(good or not).


2 thoughts on “In Defense of Rest…Again

  1. I think this is a good point! My husband is retired and sometimes watches a show during the day but he also works hard in the mornings on the garden and other things. I read now that I have more time at home. My body is slowing down as I am now in my 60’s. I did not always like husband watching tv but since I have been home since Feb., we compromise and I read while he listens with head phones or watches captions. If he did it all day, I would be concerned but I understand. The body needs rest. Today is his cancer shot, so when he comes home he will be tired and that is okay. I finished my online work but I still will check as the day continues and of course, do my physical therapy for the hip. Rest is okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Getting enough rest is important. What’s key is understanding the differing needs for rest in our bodies – and our minds – at different times in our lives. A free pass is generally given for some of those times, but there’s often the belief that busyness is good, but indulging in rest is somehow lacking. With the current numbers experiencing burnout, you’d think that situation would be revised, but… we’re not there yet, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

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