Mental Health

Rest is What Makes You a Person

Bookmarked Rest is What Makes You a Person by Anna Havron (

What I did not know then was how to rest well. I knew how to collapse. I knew how to numb myself with screen time, and with wine. But I did not know how to rest in a restorative way.

I learned through experience that rest, if it is restorative rest, is what makes you feel like a person instead of a machine.

What is the opposite of a person? A drone. A drudge. An appliance. The history of enslavement is the history of attempting to wipe out others’ personhood; to turn living human beings into machines. It is not surprising that the weekly practice of a full day of rest emerged from the story of an enslaved people…

“When you are a person…

You have agency… Persons make deliberate choices about how to respond to their lives, rather than mindlessly reacting to things…

– You have relationships of equals in your life. You have people you choose to invest your time with, doing things you enjoy.

– You have interests of your own, things you enjoy not because they are useful or make money, but because they make you feel happy and interested when you do them.”

“Rest is Not Given to You. Rest is Something You Must Choose, On Purpose.”

“[O]ur human instinct is to keep pushing. We have a bias toward action. It feels better to take action, to keep doing and doing, than it does to stop.”

What plows are you pulling?

“So just like you have to prepare ahead of time for a travel vacation, you have to prepare some things ahead of time to enjoy a real day of rest, a weekly mini-vacation…Plan days of rest that you are thankful for, not only while you’re enjoying them, but when you remember them later.”

This is a good reminder that it’s worth planning ahead for rest to make it more effective and enjoyable. How often I putter a day off away catching up on articles and doing little chores and at the end of the day can’t say I’ve either gotten anything done *or* rested.

“Lately I’m wondering how instant access to knowledge and others’ opinions might cut off creativity.”

I’ve been wondering this too — how much I fill my mind with others’ thoughts, or even let others decide what I’ll be thinking about, by spending so much time reading articles by other people as they come in to my RSS and email.

Anna comes back again to the idea of the digital Sabbath or computer free day I’ve seen come up again and again… I tried it to some extent earlier this year but didn’t really have a plan and somewhat floundered from that. But maybe worth trying again with more intentionality…

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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