After weeks of built up stress and anxiety, my world collapsed. I felt abandoned, exhausted and full of despair and heartbreak. I won’t go into excruciating details, but suffice it to say if anything good has come out of my most recent trial it’s the realization that I need to take God’s directive to rest more seriously.
I thought if I approached my work and my life with a passionate demeanor that I would not ever approach mental exhaustion and burnout. I was wrong. I realized at work, especially, that I regularly took the work of 3 people and thus, most of the managers that I had, had high expectations of me. However, regularly working a high workload with no vacation time and high demands are a combination for disaster for anyone, but especially someone on the spectrum like me.
Rest will look different for every person, but it is imperative that everyone take a rest from the things that burden and weigh them down. Rest can be physical sleep, or it can be temporary or permanent emotional distance from someone or something that is stressing you out. For instance, when a work project is stressing you out, taking a 15 minute or so break from it can clear your mind and help you maintain your sanity. In another situation, I had to make a clean break from a “friend” who was continually stressing me out and giving me anxiety every time I saw her.
This is why I recommend everybody that is working right now to take all your breaks that you are legally entitled to under state and company law. If a manager or an associate acting as a manager refuses to allow you to take a break, you can take it to a higher level manager or if all other options are exhausted, to your state’s (or country’s) labor agency. I know in high stress environments it’s always a race to get things done by X time, but if you are not healthy or alert, things will get messed up and slow things down anyway. Also, never “save” all your vacation days. Yes, save some of it, and try not to waste them. However, a person also needs time to rest from labor. This is why there is a Labor Day in the U.S. This is not only to honor those who work, but also to remind ourselves that we need rest from our labors.
Finally, take a rest from expectations and demands, both self-imposed and those implied or percipitated by others. This does not mean to rebel against rules and regulations that must be followed, but it means to not worry too much about how other people perceive you when you are already doing the best you can. It also means not to set too high a bar for yourself that you set yourself up for failure. I regularly fell apart under the weight of both my own demands and how others would perceive me when I failed. In my job, I have to perform at least 100 PR to be considered “good,” but I ended up being so trapped by a PR number, that if I performed below 130 PR, I got upset at myself. I felt pressured both externally and internally to perform at higher and higher standards until the work became anxiety-provoking and aggravating. I believe if my coworkers and I did not know our PR for even a day, or it was not counted for let’s say a week, people would feel free to work more carefully and not just so fast, taking shortcuts, that they messed up a customer’s order or did not follow rules and regulations of the company.
So, rest is vital to not only our work environment, but also our well-being and our state of mind. Rest clears the mind of its needless clutter and it brings peace and comfort to the soul and body. Rest is also being obedient to the Fifth of Ten Commandments, which is to rest from our labors on Sabbath day, a day each week you designate in your heart to devote to God and rest in Him. Rest is necessary for a healthy and vibrant soul.