I have a lot going on in my life right now, and I don’t get enough time to rest. I’m transitioning to independent living, keeping track of my income while balancing my medical expenses, and completing an internship at The Washington Post while writing this column. I strive to be socially active with friends through my church, the Duchenne muscular dystrophy community, work, and school. On top of that, I’m learning everything I can to become a video games journalist.
I enjoy living to the fullest, but I’m still learning how to do it without becoming physically and mentally worn out. The best way to avoid exhaustion is to schedule sufficient time for rest. I’ve realized that there’s a reason why God made the Sabbath a day of rest. I work on the weekend, which makes it difficult to abide by the holy day. However, my day of rest doesn’t have to be a Sunday. But it does mean that I’ve needed to say no to things I wish I could say yes to.
Saying no is essential to allow me to do the things that matter the most. Without adequate rest, I’m a risk to myself, I’m not fun to be around, and I endanger my health. I can’t go to happy hour every night with acquaintances, write every story about which I’m passionate, network with everyone at the Post, and meet every person I know in D.C. Physically able people can’t do everything, and neither can I. I’m fooling myself and those around me if I say yes to everything.
Now that I’ve established that I’m not superhuman and I need additional rest, I feel less guilty about taking time for myself. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I want to do more, but I need to be realistic. What I do during my time of rest is as vital as setting aside some downtime.
Sleep falls under the category of rest, and quality sleep is critical with Duchenne. Read my column on the subject, and you’ll realize why. To summarize: Without enough sleep to allow my muscles to rest from the day’s activities, my weakness is more pronounced, putting me at an increased risk of falling and injuring myself.
When resting, I’ve found that doing the opposite of what I do for work is the most rewarding. Sitting on the couch all day does not count. I could go out to watch a movie, film a video of myself playing computer games, hang out with friends, drive my chair by the river, or go for a swim in a pool. While each of these activities requires some effort, at least I’m experiencing the world and creating or learning something new.
I often want to sit on the couch all day, but that doesn’t mentally sustain me. I need to be doing something. We’re not designed for idleness. My mood sours the more I sit there and do nothing.
I’m not perfect, though, and sometimes I binge-watch an entire season of a TV show. Though it seems fun and relaxing at the time, when I realize that I’ll never get back those eight hours, I instantly regret it. I’m aware that I don’t have as much time as others, and I intend to make the most of my life.
When I rest while enjoying an activity unrelated to my job, I return to my work refreshed and excited to start a new day. I realize that not doing everything I want can lead me to being able to accomplish everything that I want. When I establish my priorities and give myself enough fuel to pursue my commitments to God, family, friends, and passions, I know that I will be content with my life.
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