You might be familiar with the Bourne Identity novels by Robert Ludlum. These stories were popularized by the Matt Damon movies in recent years. A spy named Jason Bourne is on the run from various groups of people. As Bourne runs frantically from place to place, he constantly reminds himself of an important concept in his espionage training:
“Rest is a weapon.”
This is a powerful concept. Rest is one of the greatest “weapons” I have in my arsenal. It might be yours, too. Here’s why:
1. Whoever wins the night, wins the fight.
This is a military mantra, and though civilian life isn’t exactly the same as being on the frontlines of combat, it still applies.
I’ve always been fascinated by military strategy and psychology. Throughout history, utilization of the night hours have played a pivotal role in battle. When military tactics involve disrupting the sleep of the enemy, it’s not just to cause physical exhaustion but to impair judgment and kill morale. When I don’t get a good night’s sleep I don’t feel like doing anything the next day except sleeping!
Your night often determines how your day will go. In fact, your day technically starts at night. Most people are in bed around midnight, or at least thereafter. Each day has enough challenges of its own. “Winning the night” before helps me face my day from a place of strength.
2. The mind of the entrepreneur never shuts down.
I’m an introvert and overthinker. I have a lot of conversations with myself! My mind is always at work, and sometimes the only way to shut my brain off is to sleep.
I often crash after anything that requires a lot of face-to-face contact or expense of creative and conversational energy. While I love deep work in writing, content creation, networking, and public speaking, they can be very draining. The moment I disconnect from people, I start reconnecting with my own thoughts… and the conversations start all over again.
- “What could I have said better?”
- “Why did I use that example instead of the other one? Arg!”
- “I should listen to the recording of that to evaluate myself… right now!”
One of my biggest “weapons of rest”: a Tempur-Pedic bed. I used to joke that it was the best investment I’ve ever made. Now I think it might be true. I’ll spend a third of my life sleeping so might as well make it comfortable. If rest is a weapon, I got a good piece of equipment.
3. Knowing how you rest can reveal blind spots.
We all have different coping mechanisms. Some are healthy, like exercise or napping. Some are not so healthy, like alcohol, rabid shopping, overeating, or escapism.
When I’m tired, I become a zombie. I used to unplug by playing videogames or watching TV for hours. Since shooting aliens for hours isn’t very restful, I’d take a nap on top of it. End result? Do nothing for 8+ hours… and not even feel rested.
Mindless repetitive activities is a common way I cope with stress, at least according to my Briggs-Myers personality type. Being aware of that has helped me put up guardrails around my life and make me more creative and productive.
These days, I’m a bit older and wiser. I workout regularly, eat better, make sure to get about 7 hours of sleep a night, and journal so that I can “dump” my thoughts out so I don’t carry them through the night. I usually fall asleep to some sort of meditation or affirmation track, which also keeps my thoughts from running wild and prevents me from staring at the ceiling overthinking things.
Most importantly, I’ve created a real home. For several years (especially following a divorce) I spent a lot of time traveling and bouncing around. In between trips I lived with family in the Washington DC area but never really had my own place.
There’s a difference between living somewhere and building a home somewhere. As a child, my home life was very unstable and toxic – it wasn’t a safe place. I carried that sentiment into my adult life… until I finally settled down and created a home for myself.
They say “Home is where the heart is” and likewise, I’d say one of the most important things I learned over the years is to tend to the heart. Listen to what it’s telling me. See how my body feels and carries itself and responds to situations I’m in.
Many times after long road trips, I’ll come home and get sick for a week. I often wondered why I was able to travel so much and be totally fine, then have my health plummet as soon as I got home.
I think it’s because my body finally felt safe to let it’s guard down and rest.
Now I’ve learned to pace myself better and not plan such long trips. Rest really is a weapon, especially for all of us ‘go-getters’.
Question: What is ONE way you can make rest a more powerful weapon in your life? Share below.