Now this rushed feeling in the brain and nerves is intensely oppressive. Many women, and men too, suffer from it keenly, and they suffer the more because they do not recognize that that feeling of rush is really entirely distinct from what they have to do; in truth it has nothing whatever to do with it.
I have seen a woman suffer painfully with the sense of being pushed for time when she had only two things to do in the whole day, and those two things at most need not take more than an hour each. This same woman was always crying for rest. I never knew, before I saw her, that women could get just as abnormal in their efforts to rest as in their insistence upon overwork. This little lady never rested when she went to rest; she would lie on the bed for hours in a state of strain about resting that was enough to tire any ordinarily healthy woman. One friend used to tell her that she was an inebriate on resting. It is perhaps needless to say that she was a nervous invalid, and in the process of gaining her health she had to be set to work and kept at work. Many and many a time she has cried and begged for rest when it was not rest she needed at all: it was work.
She has started off to some good, healthy work crying and sobbing at the cruelty that made her go, and has returned from the work as happy and healthy, apparently, as a little child. Then she could go to rest and rest to some purpose. She had been busy in wholesome action and the normal reaction came in her rest. As she grew more naturally interested in her work she rested less and less, and she rested better and better because she had something to rest from and something to rest for.
Now she does only a normal amount of resting, but gets new life from every moment of rest she takes; before, all her rest only made her want more rest and kept her always in the strain of fatigue. And what might seem to many a very curious result is that as the abnormal desire for rest disappeared the rushed feeling disappeared, too.
There is no one thing that American women need more than a healthy habit of rest, but it has got to be real rest, not strained nor self-indulgent rest.
Another example of this effort at rest which is a sham and a strain is the woman who insists upon taking a certain time every day in which to rest. She insists upon doing everything quietly and with—as she thinks—a sense of leisure, and yet she keeps the whole household in a sense of turmoil and does not know it. She sits complacently in her pose of prompt action, quietness and rest, and has a tornado all about her. She is so deluded in her own idea of herself that she does not observe the tornado, and yet she has caused it. Everybody in her household is tired out with her demands, and she herself is ill, chronically ill. But she thinks she is at peace, and she is annoyed that others should be tired.
If this woman could open and let out her own interior tornado, which she has kept frozen in there by her false attitude of restful quiet, she would be more ill for a time, but it might open her eyes to the true state of things and enable her to rest to some purpose and to allow her household to rest, too.