Mental Health

Burnout: this viral tweet nails what so many of us get wrong about rest

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Lauren Geall
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A tired and stressed out woman walking

Do you struggle to rest – even when you’re feeling tired from a busy week at work? This viral tweet could explain why. 

In a world dominated by burnout, rest is a contentious subject. Despite so many people feeling tired all the time, the idea of stepping back – of taking sick days, giving up our ‘side hustles’ or simply taking a lunch break – remains something many of us struggle with.

On the surface, it doesn’t make much sense – after all, you might ask yourself, what is so hard about choosing to do nothing

But dig deeper, and there’s a clear reason why so many people struggle to be ‘lazy’ – and it’s all to do with the way we view rest as a concept.

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That’s according to a now-viral tweet by the artist Eso Tolson, which interrogates the reason why so many of us believe we need to ‘earn’ any rest we take. 

“I don’t know who needs to hear this but rest is not a reward,” Tolson wrote. “You don’t have to earn rest. You need rest. You deserve rest. You are worthy of rest simply because you are a living being. And don’t ever feel guilty for taking time to rest.”

Responding to a follower who said they felt guilty when they don’t accomplish things on a daily basis due to mental health issues, Tolson added: “We’ve been taught that our worth/value is based on our productivity. So, when we’re not being ‘productive’ we feel ‘worthless’ or not valuable. As if we’re supposed to constantly be producing… like a machine. It’s insidious really.” 

Tolson’s point about productivity is particularly interesting. Not only are many of us addicted to ‘being busy’ at work – whether that’s by working overtime, logging on at the weekend and checking emails in between – but we’re also addicted to being ‘productive’ and ‘busy’ in our free time too.

Even things like self-care and exercise – which are supposed to be a way for us to take care of ourselves – have evolved into something we need to ‘tick off’ rather than enjoy.  

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While Tolson’s tweet doesn’t provide any answers as to how you can unpick this need to ‘earn’ rest, it certainly provides a lot of food for thought, especially as we move towards the business of Christmas and party season.

When you’re busy (as we all are), it’s easy to forget why you feel the need to be on-the-go 24/7 – but taking a step back to interrogate that sense of pressure can make a big difference to your overall perspective and make it easier for you to give yourself the rest you deserve. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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