Breathe in. Breathe out.
Take a walk. Take a nap.
Read a book. Listen to music.
Just – be.
What does rest look like for you?
Shelby Houghton ’22 (CLAS) is inviting all members of the UConn community to rest starting on Monday, April 11, with a weeklong series of events focused on promoting and encouraging rest as a means of personal wellness and social change called Rest is Revolution: UConn’s Week of Reflection.
“We’re in a moment of great pressure as students and members of the UConn community – pursuing active anti-racism, healing through a pandemic, returning to school or jobs, many of our plans and expectations for the future altered,” says Houghton, a political science and human rights major.
“I put Rest is Revolution together because I saw how desperately it is needed,” she explains. “Students and faculty – across the United States, but demonstrated here at UConn – are so overworked. We attach our worth to how hard we work, and I seldom see our community take time for themselves just because. I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw someone just sit without work in front of them on campus. The rest movement is an intersectional, approachable, and simple wellness, human rights, and personal event.”
Running from April 11 through April 15, Rest is Revolution will feature an open, drop-in rest space – described as a safe, comfortable, intentional space for people to take a moment for themselves and rest – on the Student Union Green, available to anyone in the community to take time for rest.
The event includes a series of hour-long guided wellness sessions, held in the Student Union, which Houghton describes as “a one-of-a-kind experience.”
“Students can expect an introduction to the rest movement, a conversation about how history and incredible activists have empowered the rest movement, and a guided meditation so all students can share a collective moment of rest,” she says. “It’s going to be unlike anything UConn has ever seen.”
The event also features a podcast and free meditations, available on Spotify, and other online materials – including guided meditations, body stretches, and other resources – available on the event’s LinkTree, which also hosts sign-ups for the wellness sessions.
The program is supported by a Fall 2021 UConn Co-op Legacy Fellowship Program Change Grant.
Houghton – who says she was inspired by the rest movement, which was fostered and created by people of color in the United States, including Audre Lorde; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; bell hooks; and Tricia Hersey – hopes that the event not only gives fellow students an opportunity to pause and focus on their own personal wellness, but also empowers students to see rest as “a divine right and necessity.”
“Rest is social change because it challenges our ingrained feelings of unworthiness to take rest,” she says. “Resting is a political act, whether intentional or unintentional, because you challenge the inequity, racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination that forces people to prove themselves and work to death. Rest as a form of social change is new to a lot of us. Many people see rest as a means to an end – resting to do more work, resting to get ready for our next responsibility, or resting because we are beyond exhausted and can’t function anymore.”
She continues, “But everyone knows what burnout feels like, which is evidence of how powerful the rest movement has the potential to be. If everyone knows what it’s like to overwork, we can all take something out of creating restful routines and mindsets.”