The Practice of Rest (it's not easy)
By the time you read this, I will have a newborn baby and I’ve had a lot of messages over the last few weeks saying, “don’t forget to make sure you rest.” However, if you are anything like me, resting or sitting still is not something that comes naturally. When I was heavily pregnant I was having difficulty resting and so what are the chances of resting with a newborn?
However, regardless of whether you have children or not, the importance and practice of rest still applies. For I have many friends who don't have children and still struggle to find time to rest. The building pressures of life can simply take over.
So, I ask, in a world of busyness, have we genuinely forgotten how to rest?
The other day on the phone to a friend, she had mentioned about coming over for the evening but I had cancelled. Although I felt the need to apologise for letting her down, I explained that I just wanted to me on my own and you know what? She understood. I mentioned that my husband was away for a few days and that I wanted to rest and soak up some personal time with my own thoughts. I don't want to feel guilty for feeling like that as it was the truth.
So why do many of us feel so guilty for taking time to rest? Is it just a culture embedded into us now to ‘get things done’? Everything is urgent. Nobody can afford to waste a moment resting in today’s results-oriented world. Ask many corporate leaders and they will tell you that rest is essential for productivity. Forbes magazine recently wrote, “You can only work so hard and do so much in a day. Everybody needs to rest and recharge.” Your productivity requires rest.One of my relatives thrives on being full pedal down all the time but equally, I know when he’s exhausted, and he’s pushed himself too hard. Taking time to rest is absolutely essential for a balanced, healthy life.
Unfortunately, this hectic pace can cause damage. There is a reason we run faster and work harder, but only fall further behind. Our lives have become too full and too out of balance. Somewhere along the way, we lost the essential practice of concentrated rest. In my opinion, when I (finally) rest or sit still is when some of my best creative ideas pop into my mind.
Here are 4 thoughts on why practicing more rest is good for us:-
A healthy body - We each get one life and one body to live it in. Therefore, we must eat healthy (most of the time) and we must exercise / keep our bodies active. Rest is as essential to our physical health as the water we drink and the air we breathe.
Reduce stress - Concentrated rest confronts stress in two ways. First, it reduces the demands of the situation. We have no demands on us as long as we have the ability to mentally let go of unfinished tasks. Secondly, rest reduces stress by increasing our resources, particularly energy.
Reflection - Sometimes it is hard to see the wood for the trees, as the saying goes. Concentrated rest allows us to take a step back, to evaluate things. Sometimes, I use that time of reflection to express gratitude or just to remind myself how far I’ve come on my personal journey.
Increased production - More work is not better work. Smarter work is better work. Listen to your body and take rest when you need it. There is no shame in going to bed at 9pm if your body is craving rest. Resting your physical muscles as well as your body and mind allows you the opportunity to rejuvenate. This leads to refocus and more success.
In summary, rest is an extension of our contentment and security. Without them, simplicity and rest are difficult, if not impossible.
Consider what small changes you can make in your life to encourage more rest. You are not a victim of your time demands. You are the creator and acceptor of them.
It is not always easy to find rest when the housework is never finished, the kids always seem hungry and there’s a mountain of life admin to do; but, take small steps to reclaim a little lost rest in your week and who knows how you might feel? A little less frazzled (I hope) and a little more focused.
So, I ask, how will you spend some time resting this weekend? Whether it is thirty minutes or one hour to yourself. Can you manage it?
Let me know...