Rest is Revolution, a UConn Change Grant project, made its way to campus last week after months of preparation. Eighth-semester student Shelby Houghton brought forth this initiative, inviting all of UConn to hit pause — swapping productivity for some much-needed rest.
With support from UConn’s NAACP and USG, Rest is Revolution offered an outdoor rest space on the Student Union Green. The area provided several inflatable couches and a meditative sound bath from The Conduit Center.
Students were also able to sign up for in-person wellness sessions conducted by Houghton in the Student Union.
At the wellness sessions, students helped themselves to tea before settling on yoga mats. Houghton kicked off with a land acknowledgment, then asked students to raise their hands if they’ve ever felt variations of burnout and stress. Revealing that these feelings stem from institutions, she explained that the rest movement functions as a form of protest and liberation.
“This movement isn’t cute. At least, not all the time,” said Houghton, a political science and human rights double major.
Founded by leaders like Tricia Hersey and Audre Lord, the rest movement was intended to be a form of social change, combatting the exploitation of labor demanded by industrialization and discrimination. According to Houghton, when one rests, they invest in themselves, invest in others and consequently, they change the world.
“TO NOT REST IS REALLY BEING VIOLENT TOWARDS YOUR BODY. TO ALIGN YOURSELF WITH A SYSTEM THAT SAYS ‘YOUR BODY DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU, KEEP WORKING. YOU ARE SIMPLY A TOOL FOR OUR PRODUCTION.’”
“We continue to overwork ourselves because we feel like we don’t deserve rest. You should not have to burn out to survive. When you give yourself the things you deserve, you take care of your corner of the world,” added Houghton.
Next, Houghton discussed issues stemming from hustle culture. The mentality keeps us from doing things without the validation of others — instead, we are motivated by the prospect of adding things to our resume, making friends and family proud or getting rich.
To partake in rest challenges those motives. Houghton suggested that while one nap may not change the world, restfulness is a skill and a muscle in need of exercise. By developing restful habits, we challenge cultural norms and learn to appreciate more than just the material.
“To not rest is really being violent towards your body. To align yourself with a system that says, ‘Your body doesn’t belong to you, keep working. You are simply a tool for our production,’” Hersey, one of the movement’s founders, once said.
During the latter half of the session, Houghton led students through a guided meditation, encouraging them to envision a stream and let all their worries be swept away by the current.
As part of the project, Houghton prepared a myriad of resources for students to take advantage of. On top of the in-person meditation sessions and outdoor rest spaces, Rest is Revolution offered an interactive self-care checklist and curated playlists. There is also a podcast available, with guided meditations to do on your own time and further information on the history of the rest movement.
To learn more about Rest is Revolution, you can visit the project’s Instagram page.