You haven’t always viewed rest the way you do today! Remember spending the day at the park, the beach, or an amusement park when you were a child; a day bursting with activity and wonder? Those days were exhilarating and exhausting. On the way home, you drifted to sleep in the back seat of the car knowing that you would be well taken care of. You were relaxed and completely at peace. Those were sweet moments!
Fast forward and the pressures of life seem to encroach on your peaceful sleeping moments! It feels like there is a never ending list of things to do and soon you find yourself going a hundred miles an hour all day and then dragging yourself to bed late only to struggle to fall asleep. If you have ever experienced the fight to find sleep, you know that it is a miserable cycle. And getting up the next morning – rough!
Did you know…
There is no denying the perks of being well rested:
- Improved memory
- Better health – sleep curbs inflammation and lowers the chances of a heart attack and diabetes
- Lowers stress
- Decreases the chance of depression
- Spurs creativity
- Enhances your physical performance
- Increases your ability to pay attention and learn
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
- Supports better problem solving
- Enables you to make fewer mistakes
- Protects you from illness
- Boosts your mood and energy and positively affects your attitude
- And it makes you happy!
The trick: getting that rest! What if all the “going and doing” is actually working against you? What if the endless hard work is actually diluting your efforts? Would you be willing to make changes if you knew that carving out time to rest in your day not only made the process more pleasant, but also more efficient? Would you be tempted to embrace a more restful rhythm to life?
Consider the following as you attempt a more restful rhythm for your life:
1. Adjust your thinking
How do you view rest? Is it something you earn after completing everything on your “to do” list? Is rest a luxury, a waste of time, or a sign of weakness? Or is it something necessary that you “get to do” that enables you to get things done?
Be honest – what beliefs keep you from resting? It is easy to get confused and think that everything hinges on what you do, so you just keep on doing. Or to let fear trick you into thinking you have to do more and more to be successful or happy or worthy! When you rest, you acknowledge that God’s role is powerful! You make space for God to work on your behalf.
2. Hit the hay
Getting enough rest begins with going to bed at a reasonable hour each night. That means that you have to be intentional about what time you want to begin your evening routine and head that direction.
In order to get the rest you need, hopefully somewhere between 7-8 hours, what time do you need to begin your bedtime routine?
What do you need to do to wind down and prepare yourself to sleep? Small changes like turning off the TV and other electronics, including your phone, before bedtime can make a big difference. Some other suggestions: Spending a few minutes reading a book or praying. Do a brain dump – write down all the things you need to do the next day. Listen to calming music. Take a warm bath – whatever it is that will let your body know that it is time to rest so you can get the sleep you need.
3. Observe the Sabbath
Even though observing the Sabbath is an Old Testament command, taking a day of rest each week is still a practice that will prove beneficial. I personally am not tied to the idea that it has to be a specific day of the week, but more that you consciously take a break from your regular routine, especially work, and make time to slow down and rest.
There were some challenging deadlines in the early years of my publishing company. In an effort to meet those deadlines, my husband and I would often work on Sunday. Since we both had other jobs in addition to our business, this pattern of doing things eventually wore us out! God gently showed me that if I would trust Him and take the time to rest on Sunday He would see that things got done on time! Surprisingly, we had fewer problems creep up so things worked out just fine when we stopped striving and took the time to rest on Sundays.
4. Take Breaks
Getting enough sleep and resting on the Sabbath are good things, however, you will also need breaks to clear your mind and refocus throughout the day. If you work at a desk, get in the habit of working for an hour and then get up and move around for 5-10 minutes. If you spend the majority of your day standing, take a moment to sit down and rest. Find a way to incorporate breaks and create a sense of pause in your day. If you are able, consider napping to rejuvenate you for the remainder of the day!
5. Go on Retreats
Nothing refreshes your perspective on life more than taking time away. Whether you go on a personal retreat to seek God on a particular topic or go on a vacation and indulge in a break from your regular routine, the time will be well spent! You will return with a new sense of what’s important and perhaps a few creative ideas!
6. Trust Your Limits
Making space for rest, like making space for any priority, means that it will naturally edge out the less important. If adding a healthy amount of rest into your life does not fit within your limits, chances are that you are attempting more than God has in mind for you. What is it that God desires from you right now? What do you need to eliminate so that you can pursue your purpose from a well-rested place?
God knows your limits. He doesn’t give you things that are outside of them. He will stretch you, grow you, and change you, yet He doesn’t give you more than you are able to handle!
Want to enjoy that childlike peace again? Why not take steps to weave more rest into your life!
What impact is the lack of rest having on your life at the moment? What small change can you make to start moving towards a healthier rhythm of rest?