Resting While Black: A Black Woman's Quest for Sacred Rest

Discover the transformative power of rest with our latest blog post, "Resting While Black: A Black Woman's Quest for Sacred Rest." Dive into the unique challenges and systemic inequalities that disproportionately affect Black women, highlighting how reclaiming rest transcends mere relaxation to become a profound act of defiance and healing. Learn why rest is not just beneficial, but necessary—for both body and spirit. Whether you're combating burnout or seeking a deeper understanding of its pervasive impact, this post illuminates the radical power of rest as an essential component of self-care. Join us in redefining what it means to be strong through nurturing self-care and find out how you can embark on your journey towards empowerment and recovery today.

5/4/20245 min read

grayscale photo of topless woman
grayscale photo of topless woman

At 38, amidst a thriving career, I faced a bewildering health situation that forced me to confront not just my lifestyle but the deeply ingrained cultural narratives that shaped it. Seated in my doctor's office, I listened to her explanations of my symptoms, which sounded dismissive and overly familiar—attributing them to poor diet and genetics, common explanations thrown around within 'our community'. Her tone felt patronizing, almost as if scolding a child, suggesting that I was somehow complicit in my condition, that as a Black woman, I was inherently strong enough to handle it because this is typical for "my community". But that diagnosis didn’t sit right with me. Despite my diligent Whole Foods diet and regular workouts on my Peloton, I battled unexplained symptoms. It wasn't just about the typical; I knew it was the stress.

For years, I had prided myself on my resilience and ability to handle high-stress environments, believing that overcoming exhaustion was just part of the job. I was living up to the 'strong Black woman' archetype, pushing through fatigue and stress without pause. But the toll was high, manifesting silently but significantly in the most personal aspects of my health.

This was a wake-up call. My body was sending a clear message: the relentless pressure and systemic stress were weathering me down, literally. It pushed me to reevaluate the true cost of my supposed strength and resilience. Now, I want to share this crucial insight—rest is not merely a retreat but a profound necessity for healing and defiance against the slow, invisible damage inflicted by constant stress.

The Science Behind Our Collective Strain

Building on the pioneering work of Arline T. Geronimus, I began to explore the concept of "weathering" — a hypothesis that explains how continuous exposure to social, economic, and racial stressors leads to a faster decline in health among Black women compared to other demographics. This isn't just about feeling tired; it's about a systematic erosion of health, happening because our bodies and minds are constantly under siege by the very society we navigate daily.

Why does this matter? Because it's happening at alarming rates, and the effects are profound — from high blood pressure to complex reproductive health issues, the signs of weathering are all around us. And while genetics and lifestyle choices play their part, they are often not the full story. Our environments, our stresses, they shape our well-being in ways we are only beginning to understand fully.

The Power of Rest

Zora Neale Hurston once poignantly described the plight of Black women with her words: "De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as Ah can see." This vivid metaphor captures the relentless labor and undervaluation imposed on Black women, who not only earn just 63 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men but are also the most employed among women, their labor exploited by a capitalist system that thrives on their relentless toil.

In this context, rest becomes a radical act of resistance. It is not merely about cessation but about reclaiming our time, our health, and our very selves from the grips of exploitation. Rest challenges the narrative that our value is tied solely to our productivity. When you choose to rest, do so unapologetically, knowing that you are countering a system that expects you to work tirelessly without proper recognition or reward.

Barriers to Embracing Rest

Yet, embracing rest is fraught with challenges. Cultural stigmas and economic realities intertwine, making rest seem unattainable. The hustle culture glorifies ceaseless working, pushing the idea that success only comes from constant activity. Against this backdrop, taking time for oneself can feel like a radical, even rebellious act.

Audre Lorde famously declared, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." This statement underscores the necessity of self-care, particularly for those who are systematically marginalized. In a society that often overlooks the needs of Black women, asserting the right to rest and care for oneself becomes a powerful statement of resistance and a fundamental step toward healing and empowerment.

Yes, It Is Sacred and Yes, It is Holy

The altar call has been given, and it is now time for those who are weary and heavy-laden to come and find rest. This is more than a mere pause; it is a sacred act, integral to our spiritual and physical renewal. Just as God rested on the seventh day, we too are called to embrace rest—not just as a luxury, but as a holy and essential practice that aligns with the very rhythm of creation itself.

In recognizing rest as sacred, we see it not just as a personal need but as a divine right. It is time to elevate rest from a whispered necessity to a celebrated, communal sacrament. Let us respond to this call with the fullness of our beings, ready to lay down the burdens we have carried for far too long.

Finding My Bliss in Rest

At 38, I stood at a crossroads, with my health and spirit under siege from the relentless demands of life. Fast forward to today, at 42, I am not just surviving; I am thriving. Through embracing rest, I have reclaimed my joy and am living more freely than I ever imagined possible. My health has been restored, and my faith has been renewed.

This journey to finding bliss in rest wasn't just about stepping back; it was about stepping into a fuller understanding of what it means to truly live. I've learned that rest is not a sign of weakness but a profound source of strength. It is in our quietest moments that we often find the loudest truths about who we are and what we need to flourish.

As I continue to navigate the complexities of life, rest remains my sanctuary—a sacred space where I can lay down my burdens and lift up my joys. Unapologetically, I claim this peace, knowing that in rest, I am not only preserving my health but also cultivating a life filled with grace and resilience.

To everyone reading this, know that it is never too late to reclaim your time, your health, and your joy through rest. Let us all embrace the quiet revolution of resting unapologetically, and may we find our own bliss in the beautiful, restorative pause of life.

In Rest and Renewal,

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five woman sitting on the ground
five woman sitting on the ground
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Burnout, Rest and Resistance