I think I was born knowing the value of rest.
My mom says that toddler me used to grab my blankie and put myself down for a nap. As I grew older, I was often accused of being lazy.
My family still sighs when they see me sitting at the end of a meal while everyone else hustles to clear the dishes.
But maybe that natural inclination to sit and digest is more beneficial than they think. I recall countless precious conversations at dinner tables after the meal. Who remembers the wisdom Granddaddy passed down while loading the dishwasher? No, the magic happens in the pause.
I think I fully learned the value of rest when I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome. As I paid closer attention to what my body needs, I noticed the days when I got anxious and stressed were quickly followed by fevers, aches, and exhaustion… My autoimmune condition causes flares of inflammation that are similar to a virus, but not as long-lasting or intense. I learned I could avoid those flare ups by paying attention to when my body needed—you guessed it—rest.
I had to pause from the physical demands of life. I had to be ok with an evening spent on the couch in order to avoid the next two days in bed. The biggest trigger for me was stress. I learned to calm my feelings. Lavender essential oil helped tremendously!
This was a physical rest, but it was also the choice to abstain from the emotional toil of life. I had to choose a spirit of rest.
Rest is not a four letter word.
Ok, ok, so it is a word spelled with four letters, but it’s not a “four letter word”, the kind that you have to use asterisks and ampersands to spell.
The way some people hustle through life, you’d think they’d spell Rest: R#$T.
We all fall into the busyness trap at some point. We make goals, to do lists, and productivity planners. (By the way, have you seen our Peace & Productivity Planner? wink, wink)
We rush from one activity to another and rarely pause in between to consider our ways.
I’ve seen people push through illness. They continue working as if the world wouldn’t revolve if they didn’t keep it going.
When does it end?
Rest, as it turns out, is actually pretty darn essential to life.
It’s necessary for physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.
Without rest, our lives can never function at their optimum level. Even computers and machines need to shut down for maintenance. Why do we think we don’t?
Eleven ways to get the rest you need.
Once you’ve accepted the fact that your body, mind, and spirit need rest, the hard part is actually making that happen. It takes some creativity, some trial and error, and a commitment to a new peaceful way of living. Try these things and use them as a jumping off point to find what works for you.
1. Go Screen-Free
Not forever of course, I still want you to come see me!
Try dedicating an hour or two around dinner time as screen-free hours. Initiate a screen-free Sabbath, maybe.
The never-ending hubbub of the online world is highly stimulating. We get a little dose of dopamine every time we get a new email, text, or notification. It makes us feel important and connected. This is highly addicting. And just like addictions to other stimulants, they can be very hard to break and can interfere with our ability to make connections in the real world or even to be aware of our mind’s need for rest.
Give your brain a break and your spirit a little nourishment by shutting down for a few hours.
2. Go for a Walk
Going for a moderate rate walk clears the head. Your mind has a chance to wander. The light activity gets the blood flowing to your brain. Fresh air awakens the senses.
If you have small children, it can be practically impossible to get a good brisk power walk, but a lovely stroll and a pause to look at the natural surroundings is just fine. Kids seem to know exactly how to take it all in.
3. Take a Break
Studies show that your productivity increases when you take a 5-10 minute break for every 45 minutes of brain work. That means if you’re studying, writing, computing, or working, you’ll get more done in 1.5 hours if you stop in the middle, visit the restroom, grab some coffee, do some stretches, etc. Yes, taking 10 minutes of “rest” can make the next 45 more effective than working straight through.
You can even take a minute to check out Instagram or read a post from your favorite blogger. (wink, wink) Just be sure you come back to your task! Some people set a 10 minute timer so they don’t get lost in Lala Land.
4. Embrace Hygge
This Danish concept of coziness, homeyness, and togetherness is something we are desperately missing in America. Embrace hygge. Enjoy your time with your family over supper. Sit with your friends and don’t worry that the floor isn’t vacuumed. Use the mug that makes your heart happy even though it’s old and chipped and doesn’t match the set. Light a candle and just watch the flame dance. Be content.
When was the last time you raised your arms above your head? I know it sounds trivial, but stretch is actually a great way to release tension and alleviate stress. My favorite stretches are simple. Raise your hands above your head, palms together. Inhale and lean to the side, exhaling. Repeat on the other side.
Then, place your hands on a counter or dresser, something a little higher than table-height. Drop your head between your arms and move your feet back until your body is at a 90 degree angle at the hips. Keep your hands on the counter. Relax. Let your head dangle. You’ll feel this in your back and the back of your legs. It’s great to release any tension and realign your body after all the demands of the day.
Some of the best, alignment stretches and gentle, energizing exercises are available online at Fit2B (affiliate link). I recommend this to everyone I know! You’ve never done exercise like this before. Stay in your regular clothes, you don’t need a shower after, and you will feel stronger and healthier! (Slimmer too!!)
6. Practice Your Magic
What is it that makes you feel alive? Are you creative? Do you bake? Do you draw? Hand lettering? Sketching? Writing? Maybe you work with your hands. Maybe you play a sport. If shooting baskets makes you feel alive, do it!
Each of us is gifted with a unique personality and talent. Maybe you’ve been taught by the world to not value your talent. Perhaps you think it has to be something that earns money. Maybe it didn’t fit your parents’ expectations.
Your parents didn’t design you. God did. As long as your talent is used to glorify Him and isn’t going against the scriptures in any way, it’s good!
Take time to do that thing feeds your soul. Your brain and body are happy too as they work in harmony with the soul. “Practice your magic” is just a phrase to help you remember that you have a unique gift, and you need to give time to it.