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To Rest and Celebrate

rest and celebrate Feb 16, 2022

Do you know how to rest? I mean do you know how to take a break to maintain your physical strength and mental perspective, to bring yourself into balance before you burn out? If you don’t, you can learn. (I can say this because I struggle and have to be intentional about my own rest.)

What about celebration? How often do you rejoice in your own success? I don’t mean huge milestones. I’m talking about little wins like stopping work at a reasonable hour, being fully present for your family or a friend, or using your privilege to stand up for someone in need. Those things are wins and we should celebrate! Do you?

Rest and celebration are crucial to making social justice a habit. After all the work of learning what kind of self-care works best for you, learning facts about racism and oppression, and undoing what you’ve learned (and lived) about race, privilege, and equality, you need a break!

After moving outside your comfort zone to intentionally push back against the systems you’ve operated within your whole life, your adrenaline might be surging. You might be nervous or fearful. You might be high on your success!

We Don’t Prioritize Rest in America

Pushing without rest (no matter how driven or excited you are) leads to overwhelm, burnout, and worse. It hurts your physical health - it can lead to heart disease and other stress-related illnesses. It hurts your mental health – it increases anxiety and can contribute to depression. It makes it harder to recognize other people’s emotions. It decreases productivity and creativity. Not stopping is not sustainable. We have to rest to keep going.

Prioritizing rest before you burn out is critical to living a healthy life and doing your best work.

You know how I say self-care is a form of protest? Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry, says that Rest is Resistance.  She travels the country using the “ power of performance art, site-specific installations, and community organizing to install sacred and safe spaces for the community to rest together.” She’s active on Instagram @thenapministry.

We Overlook Celebration

Celebration is often overlooked because we think getting to the next goal or milestone is more important. But when we forget to mark our progress, we can lose sight of what we’ve accomplished. It’s easy to overlook the miles we’ve covered when we’re tired and have so many more to go. But with social justice, there’s no clear end. I doubt we’ll end racism in my lifetime, so we can’t keep pushing with that being the only goal in mind.

We have to celebrate the small wins that lead to the big one. These mini markers remind us that we have made progress, that we’re doing some good even if we haven’t reached the ultimate goal, yet. Not recognizing our progress can lead to disillusionment because we think we haven’t come far enough. And that can lead to giving up or pushing even harder, which I already pointed out can have detrimental effects on our health.

How we celebrate can vary. It doesn’t always have to cost money or take a lot of time. Sometimes a 5-minute dance break is enough to acknowledge an accomplishment. Sometimes giving in to that chocolate or cake craving can do it. Maybe you want to take 20 minutes and do something artsy. Be creative! What makes you feel good?

As we create this habit of antiracism, let’s build in celebration and rest to make social justice sustainable.

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