There continues to be a shift alongside growing evidence that supports rest, pleasure, and play as fundamental necessities for leading a fulfilling life. This blog covers three specific areas of self-care that are overlooked, explore self-reflective questions, and discover how they can enhance your happiness and fulfillment.

What thoughts or emotions arise when you hear (or read) the following words in no particular order: rest, pleasure, and play? Take a moment to pause and reflect on what your responses might mean, where they might come from. Which brings me to the most important question of all. When was the last time these words applied to you?

If you’re like me, the idea of rest, pleasure, and play––which I will affectionately dub, RPP from this point on––might seem like a faraway dream, a carrot dangling at the end of a very, very long stick. The idea of RPP being something you earn is ingrained all around us. Rest is often treated as a commodity and luxury rather than a basic need. A lot of us may feel we can’t afford to rest, both figuratively and literally. As we progress further into the new year, a time when many of us hope to set new goals, we might find ourselves asking whether these narratives are sustainable and or meaningful.

Self-Care Reflection: 4 Questions for Self-Discovery

  1. What narratives do you currently have around rest, pleasure, or play?
  2. Where did they originate and what reinforces them?
  3. What structures continue to uphold them?
  4. When was the last time these words applied to you?

Benefits of Self-Care Rituals: Rest, Pleasure, and Play

By now, many of us are aware of the benefits of adequate rest and relaxation, including but not limited to, reduced stress, improved moods, and other various health benefits. Additionally, play has also become a recognized way to relieve stress, improve mental and emotional wellness, stimulate creativity, and facilitate connection to ourselves and others. While the definition of pleasure may differ for everyone across various domains, doing something that brings us pleasure releases mood-enhancing dopamine and endorphins, increasing feelings of happiness, motivation, and relaxation. According to Adrienne Maree Brown, pleasure is defined as a “feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment” through the framework that it’s a necessity and a right of which society and systems must support (Brown, 2019).

5 Signs You Need More Rest, Pleasure, and Play

If you can’t remember the last time you felt relaxed or engaged in something fun or pleasurable, this might be the first good indicator. Maybe you’re feeling more irritable or fatigued. Or maybe the ping of a new email evokes feelings of anxiety or resentment. We all have different ways of communicating to ourselves, and it’s important to pay attention to the cues from a holistic framework. While the signs may vary for everyone, here are a few common ones to look out for:

  • Mental and physical exhaustion
  • Increased mental and emotional stress
  • Feeling bored, uninspired, or stuck in a routine
  • Decreased motivation, creativity, and/or pleasure
  • Feeling disconnected from yourself and/or others

5 Self-Care Reflection Questions: Where Are You At With Rest, Pleasure, and Play?

  1. What are you feeling right now in your body, mind, emotions, and spirit, and what messages are coming through?
  2. What feelings, sensations, thoughts, or images arise when you think of rest, pleasure, and play, and what might these mean?
  3. What areas of your life do you have adequate rest, pleasure, and play?
  4. What areas could use more expansion?
  5. What is one thing you can do today to move towards more rest, pleasure, and play?

Incorporate Self-Care: 5 Ways to Incorporate Rest, Pleasure, and Play

Okay, so we know rest, pleasure, and play is important. You might have already thought about the ways you already incorporate RPP into your own life. As we do this, it’s important to acknowledge that we all have varying circumstances, capacities, and experiences with sociocultural and systemic factors that affect our rest, pleasure, and play. Tricia Hersey, founder of the Nap Ministry and author of Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto, believes that rest is not only a right, but a practice of liberation from grind culture (Hersey, 2022). The idea of incorporating these needs into our lives shouldn’t be another burden, but an invitation to breathe, laugh, reconnect, and reclaim in whatever way that feels both feasible and meaningful to us. Here are some tips to help you begin this exploration:

  1. Identify your flexibility areas: If making a huge adjustment feels overwhelming or unrealistic, it may be helpful to think about areas where we can pull back, soften the edges, and “bend” more. This might look like resisting the urge to respond to that email or text right away. Or maybe it’s incorporating tiny breaks throughout the day to do something fun or energizing. The goal of flexibility areas is to find ways to create more space in our daily lives where we can take time to breathe and center our needs.
  2. Say “No” to say “Yes”: If finding time for rest, pleasure, or play is a challenge, we may need to first work on creating that space. Setting firmer boundaries around our time and prioritizing personal needs can be a helpful strategy. Another strategy is to practice saying “no” to things so we can start saying “yes” to ourselves. This might look like declining invitations, asking for more time, and saying no to requests or expectations that are beyond our capacities. We all have different capacities and needs, and that’s okay––what would it look like to listen to and honor them?
  3. Expand definitions of rest: When we think of rest, our first thought might be physical rest, such as sleeping or taking it easy. However, rest can apply to other areas in our lives, such as mental, emotional, and social rest, to name a few. Identifying the areas in your life that feel the most draining can be a good start in exploring how to manage them. For example, personal boundaries may be a helpful strategy in giving ourselves breaks from people or situations that are mentally and emotionally draining. Social rest might involve saying “no” to invitations from time to time to prioritize our needs for rest and personal time. What types of “rest” do you need more of in your life, and what might resting look like?
  4. Visit your inner child: What kind of things did you like to do as a child? What things did you feel you had to let go of as you got older? Revisiting the things that gave us joy in our childhood might be a great way to incorporate play into our lives again. Whether through games, activities, or even attitudes we had as children, reflecting on why these things were meaningful, and how we can honor them still could be an illuminating (and fun) exploration.
  5. Collaborate with others: Including our social support systems could help increase a sense of connectedness while providing a mutually fulfilling way to engage in rest, pleasure, and play. Take daily walks with a friend, organize a weekly game night, or ask someone to be an accountability buddy to check that you’ve taken that much-needed break. Check local listings for community events that align with your interests and provide opportunities to meet like-minded people seeking ways to incorporate more rest, pleasure, and play. Don’t forget your pets––they would certainly love that extra cuddle or play time.


Brown, A. M. (2019). Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good. AK Press.
The Nap Ministry. (n.d.).
National Institute For Play. (n.d.). Why we play.