Embrace Rest as a Form of Self-Care and Ancestral Healing

This February, marks 5 years that I’ve been working for myself as BreadxButta. While that’s an amazing accomplishment and something that I am SO grateful for, I really had not stopped to come up for air or look back over these last 5 years. I started BxB 6 years ago, right as my saturn return began at 27 years old and what a fuckin’ ride its been lol! 

Through a deep spiritual awakening, a cross country move, major life changes, loss, grief, countless certifications, travel and community care—these wheels been mooooving. This year it is my FULL intention to be present with myself, sit my ass down, and reflect on all the blessings and lessons I have received over the last few years. And I’ve been thinking…

What Does it Mean to sit Down and be Present? To Rest? 

As the true nerd that I am, I began to research rest and our connection or rather our disconnection to rest—as a concept, but more so as an act of care, self love, and resistance. As I spoke with friends and my community, I learned quickly how us BIPOC folks tend to have a difficult time leaning into rest. As a culture, we have a propensity for productivity, grinding, proudly claiming #teamnosleep. We are in a constant state of scrolling on social media, worrying about where we are in comparison to others and what they choose to share––I realized that my work in embodying rest has more layers to shed than I had imagined. 

I found myself saying that I felt privileged to be able to take a moment to rest when, in fact, it is my divine right. Rest is a form of resistance because it pushes back on a long, long history of colonization and merit based self worth through capitalism. We have been viewing grind culture and productivity as a measure of our worth. I will actually not speak for others, but instead be honest in the fact that this has been my measure of self worth since I was a 13-year-old getting my first job to flex and show my friends and family how ‘ready’ and ‘about this life’ I was. 

Not Embracing Rest Can Negatively Impact Your Health in the Long Run

My lens and view is that of a kid growing up in poverty, in the projects, in a single parent household. I watched my mother work 2 jobs, take care of 2 children, spend her weekends doing side jobs, making sure my cousins were good, and still somehow make time for family. She suffered from sleep deprivation, anxiety, immunocompromised issues, and feelings that she was not doing enough. That shit is IN me. That shit is IN a lot of US. 

And while I am very proud of my mother for working and moving us up out the hood, I now see the effects she's dealing with because she didn’t KNOW how it would affect her long term; she didn’t allow herself time to rest and decompress in the ways that would have benefitted her health and wellbeing. My mother was following a blueprint set by her mother and grandmother. I began to really realize how deeply ingrained that pace is set in my body, my subconscious, and in the way that I have been viewing the world. 

Sleep Deprivation Shouldn’t be a Badge of Honor

As I have sat with clients over the years, a similar pattern often comes up—sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation leads to extreme anxiety and physical sickness, allowing work and overworking to define who we are, and that can sometimes leads to feelings of unworthiness. One of my first questions is always, “what do you do to decompress or relax?” Clients are often like, “Resst?!” with a giggle or eye roll. To be very real, this lack of sleep and rest is a huge public health issue and a deep spiritual problem. 

When we sleep, when we rest, we are allowing our bodies to basically process and heal. Our bodies are truly magical and are in a constant state of self-healing. But how can we allow time to heal, to process, and be present, if we are in constant motion trying to catch up or get ahead? Is it possible to allow ourselves space in a day to rest? And not necessarily rest in the term of napping or meditation—I realize how that can seem like, “girl stop playing, my day is full AF,” but what if we took 10-15 minutes to tap into our breath, to pray, to listen to music and daydream while looking out the window or stretching for a few minutes and closing our eyes to tune into our physical body? 

Lack of Rest is a Trauma Response That We Continue to Pass Down

What kinds of healing could rest bring to our physical and mental health? Truth be told, when we are truly ready and want to make the shift, we will make the time. We will make time for the necessary work. As a person who comes from a lineage that was deeply affected by colonization, upheaval, and unease, the idea of rest was never really one that felt like it was possible in real time. 

It stretches beyond my mother and father—looking back to my ancestors who fled Puerto Rico due to colonization and even beyond them, to my Taino ancestors and African ancestors whose homes were taken, who were sold, watched their families and communities perish, forced to live a life that they never anticipated. This shit lives in our DNA, in our bodies––it even lives in the trees and in the land that has been holding us as we transition and try to cope.  

So, how can we begin this process of healing, of the decolonization of our bodies and our minds? Rest. 

Your Future Self and Your Bloodline Will Be Grateful for Your Healing

As we heal ourselves, we are healing our ancestors and are shifting our DNA and subtle bodies—also changing that format for the folks who are coming after us. The simple act of self care is not only expensive massages, ballin’ out on new material things (yes you deserve that too), but it is also in deep introspection and the kind of rest that can truly shift our spirit and ripple out to reach the folks around you. Your children see this, your partners, family members, friends, and even your community. They see the change and that vibrates onto them. 

This is a lot to digest and think about, but we have to start somewhere if we want to restore balance in ourselves and beyond. During this winter season while everything is in hermit and  rest mode, I implore you to try and do the same. Start small, take a longer bath or shower, thank the water for cleansing your body and spirit, stop scrolling for 10 minutes and look outside your window, daydream a little.