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What To Do When You Don't Know How To Chill Out

To have a full 24-hour period to just CHILL OUT is something you should never compromise on.

Inspiration

When you're a child, so much of what you do depends on what your parents tell you (which is always a cautionary tale for people who want to have kids). And what they tell you, it becomes a part of your foundation, your core. Spiritual beliefs included.

As far as my own spirituality goes, I grew up in a religion that honored the Seventh-Day Sabbath (DeVon Franklin is someone who spends a fair amount of time speaking on this very topic; he usually tweets about it on the actual day). And while I am no longer an Adventist ("disciple" is more my lane), I'm still someone who totally goes off of the grid from Friday sunset thru Saturday sunset. When I tell you that it is nothing short of a pure blessing? To have a full 24-hour period to just CHILL OUT is something that no job or anything else really has convinced me to compromise…ever.

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One of the things I dig so much about having an entire day, each and every week, to relax is that it's taught me 1) how to better prioritize the rest of the week and 2) how to REST. A lack of rest is why a lot of us age sooner than we should. A lack of rest is why many of us are moody and irritable so much of the time. A lack of rest is why some of us stay anxious, worried, and totally stressed out far more than we should. (Everything from the common cold and headaches to obesity, asthma, diabetes, depression, and even Alzheimer's are directly related to stress, by the way.)

Mind you, I didn't say a lack of sleep. Sleep is just one component of rest. No, what I'm referring to is being intentional about seeking the kind of refreshment and refueling that directly comes from taking work breaks, disconnecting from the internet, and giving your mind, body, and spirit time to calm down…take it easy…let go.

I know that sounds super appealing. I also know its an epidemic how many of us don't have a clue how to really do this. If you think you might be the very person I'm referring to, here are some telltale signs that you and rest are not on the same page. Yet.

Silence and Stillness Make You Uncomfortable

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I can't tell you how many men have told me that a sign of being in a healthy relationship with a woman is being able to just sit in silence without being pressured to say anything to her. While on the surface this might not seem like that big of a deal, the next time you're alone with your bae or even with a close friend, try sitting for 15 minutes (without any electronic device on) without saying a word. Once you do it, think about how it made you feel. If words like self-conscious, awkward, or uncomfortable come to mind, ask yourself why.

There are people I personally know who say they constantly have to stay busy because being alone with their thoughts unsettles them. To me, that sounds like they might need to see a therapist (all of us should at one point or another) because if you need to be distracted away from your own mind…something is definitely up.

My overall point is this—just like there is a time to talk and be busy, there is also a time for silence and stillness. How can I be so confident about this? Because one definition of silence is "to put (doubts, fears, etc.) to rest" (can you just imagine how draining it is to worry ALL of the time?!) and stillness itself is a spiritual principle: "Be still and know I am God." (Psalm 46:10) It's in the moments of quiet that we're able to meditate, re-center ourselves, and be OK with not having to have all of the answers or solutions. Silence and stillness are what help to bring us into this mind of mental, emotional, and spiritual peace.

Personal Days and Holidays Are Busier Than Work Days

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Maybe if we lived in China (where lunch breaks are two hours long) or the Netherlands (where the work week averages out to be 29 hours a week), there would be no need to make this point. But in America, most of us work at least 40 hours a week. Even if we take a 30-minute lunch, we rarely leave our desk.

I recently read an article that said a 40-hour work week is not only not bad for our health, it's counterproductive when it comes to our overall job performance too. Their recommendation was companies should consider either going to 35-hour work weeks or cutting back to four-day work schedules. But until that glorious day comes, you should at least make a point to use your personal days to do more than go to the dentist and the holiday season to do more than clean your house and attend every party on the planet.

Aside from the weekend, if any days should be set aside for hanging out on the couch for hours on end, personal days and holidays should be. You've literally earned the right to.

Your Smartphone Is Your Bed Buddy

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If anything brings forth the truth meaning of something being a blessing and a curse, it's our smartphones. I'll be honest and say that, at least when it comes to mind, I don't really use it to make phone calls (I have a landline for that); I use it because it's basically a handheld computer. That's both a good and bad thing.

A while back, I wrote an article on here about all of the disadvantages that come with treating your phone like it's a vital organ. It's not good for your health, eyesight, libido, productivity, level of empathy—and that's just for starters!

You know what else? When you're constantly on your cell phone, it's also a clear sign that you don't know how to rest. If even when you're in bed, you're constantly strolling through your IG or you're checking to see what the latest gossip blog is talking about, you're not giving your brain time to process all of the intel (or not-so-intel) that it already received throughout the day. This can totally mess with your sleep patterns. It can also cause you to wake up feeling moody and anxious; that's a horrible way to start off any day.

If you don't think your relationship with your phone is as bad as all of this, test yourself. Commit to one week of putting your phone in an entirely different room for the evening. If the thought of doing this already has you hyperventilating…well. See my point?

You Think “Relax, Relate, Release” Is Only a Whitley Gilbert Cliché

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Anyone who's a diehard A Different World fan knows that "relax, relate, release" came from a counseling session that Whitley was having as it related to trying to get over Dwayne. When her therapist (played by Debbie Allen) told her to do that, I believe it stuck with all who heard it. Why? Because most of us don't do those things.

Another clear sign of not being able to rest is if you know you're a chronic overthinker. You truly don't know how to NOT make a mountain out of a molehill about pretty much everything in your life. You cough and you wonder if it's lung cancer. Your ex gets engaged and you're spending hours trying to track the new chick down. You don't know how to complete a weekly to-do list because you're too busy worrying what your life, three years from now, will look like.

Some people are so used to overthinking that it's no big deal. Oh, but it is. There are studies that link it to mental illness and the inability to effectively solve problems too. In short, overthinking makes things worse, not better.

The solution?

It might sound flippant at first but relax (be less severe), relate (take a sympathetic approach), release (let it go).

I've done it for many things and the more I do, the easier it is to accept what I can do and let go of what I cannot. Doing both is what helps you to rest in a way that you probably never have before.

You Always Feel Like You Should Be Doing…SOMETHING

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There's a guy I know who told me that one time he decided to go on vacation but, after a day, he returned back home. Why? Because he felt like—and these are his words—that he needed to be doing something; that just sitting along the water and reading a book seemed like a complete waste of time. There's another guy I know who is one of the worst insomniacs that I've ever seen. For at least the past 15 years, he's averaged 3-4 hours a night. He gives me that "I'll sleep when I'm dead" response (I've told him that, ironically, shortened longevity is a symptom of sleep deprivation). But I know for a fact that something both of these men have in common is they treat womanizing like it's an Olympic sport, so the counseling side of me thinks it's their conscious that's keeping them awake.

Anyway, even if you're not able to rest due to how you treat other people, if you are someone who feels guilty for having hours or even a weekend when you did nothing but binge-watch television or order in, what's up with that? Something that I dig about the biblical principle of the Sabbath (and the fact that even God rested—Genesis 2:1-3) is it's a reminder that rest is not a sign of laziness; it's a reward for working so hard. It's also a reminder that in order to do anything well, we need moments to recharge.

When's the last time you did just that?

You’re Constantly “Working on” Relaxing

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It tickles me that, whenever I tell one of my Energizer bunny friends that she should learn to relax more, her response is, "Yeah…I'm working on that." Working on relaxing. Talk about your ultimate oxymoron. If you're so unaccustomed to not resting that it does literally feel like work for you to do it, try the following:

  • Deep breathe
  • Meditate
  • Go on a hike
  • Put some lavender oil on your pressure points
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Journal things you're grateful for
  • Sleep in one weekend
  • Drink some cherry juice (the melatonin in it is on point!)
  • Forgive someone (no joke)
  • TOTALLY UNPLUG. OFTEN.

People who are holistically healthy know that resting is not a luxury; it is absolutely a necessity. Love yourself enough to finally learn how to rest, with no reservations or apologies. OK? Good (for you).

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Originally published on March 13, 2019

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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