Rest ~ Refreshment for the Mind, Body, & Soul
How many of us rest, I mean really rest? I have found that true rest is only achieved by intentionally seeking it. It takes practice and self-discipline.
The many responsibilities and difficulties we face in life take a toll on us both physically and mentally. Grief also brings with it heavy emotions that are exhausting and difficult to carry, like wearing a backpack filled with heavy stones on an uphill hike.
I giggle as I remember a hike our family took while on vacation in Michigan many years ago. My daughter was probably five years old at the time. We had hiked for quite some time and she had done an amazing job for such a little girl, but she finally stopped and said, “I can't do this anymore.” She had been wearing a little backpack the entire hike and I asked her to take it off before she was hoisted up onto her daddy's shoulders. That's when we realized her backpack was filled with about ten pounds of sandstones she had collected on the beach, lol! We had no idea she had carried them in her backpack all day and were amazed at her strength and resilience, something she still exhibits to this day.
My point is that sometimes we carry heavy burdens on our backs unbeknownst to those around us. It is OK to stop and say, “you know, I'm tired, I need to stop for a bit.” When we don't take time out to rest at regular intervals or let anyone know about the heavy load we are carrying, we eventually get to a point when we can no longer continue the trek. We end up physically and mentally spent. When exhaustion finally overtakes us, we need someone to carry us the rest of the way.
Life is like running a marathon. In order to complete a race of that magnitude, there must be intentional training. No one enters a marathon and expects to finish it without adequate preparation. A marathon requires both physical and mental stamina. It requires a plan of action that will challenge the body to get stronger and build endurance, but a plan that also acknowledges and accommodates the body’s need for recovery after a grueling workout.
Life is no different. So why do so many of us expect to run the race and finish well without adequate preparation? Why do so many of us ignore the fact that our bodies and our minds both require recovery time?
I have bought into the lie for most of my life that I just need to keep pushing. If I stop and rest, I am lazy. If I stop to catch my breath, I am weak. There are so many things on my to-do list it is overwhelming. How will I ever get it all done? So, I just keep on pushing. Do you do it too, my friend?
Those lies only offer exhaustion, stress, and inner turmoil. I am discovering that rest is crucial to physical and mental well-being. It helps me be more productive, not less. It leaves me feeling refreshed, not spent. I can focus and think clearly. I am happier and I feel peace, deep within.
I have also discovered that learning to practice rest is a process. Don't give up my friend, because it is not easy in the beginning. Know that our human drive to press on doesn't like to stop and it is quick to hurl judgmental insults at us. So, refuse to listen!
Remember that regular intervals of rest will increase your productivity and focus. Here are some thoughts that have helped me implement and practice rest in my own life:
R: Rest doesn't mean you are couch-bound, in fact exercise or a long walk can relieve stress and clear your mind. The things that bring relaxation, refreshment, and physical/mental recovery may be different for everyone. The key is to discover what brings these about for you personally.
E: What types of activities bring you enjoyment and leave you feeling energized and enriched?
S: Choosing to do things that bring a sense of satisfaction is a key component to rest. To learn what is effective for you, you must become self-aware. What is it that makes you feel peaceful and at ease?
There may be activities that you enjoy seasonally:
*Hiking through a forest filled with the rich colors of fall.
*Sitting by a fire with a cup of coffee, a good book, and a cozy blanket in the wintertime.
*Lounging by the poolside, sipping ice-cold lemonade in the summertime.
*Cutting fresh lilac blooms to put in a vase to enjoy the fragrance in the springtime.
T: Reflecting on things to be thankful for helps to adjust our focus. Examining our thoughts to recognize lies that steal our joy and replacing them with truth is like a balm to the mind and soul.
These are just a few of the things I have learned about true rest and how to implement it in my own life. It was not easy at first, but as I get better at it, the benefits are undeniable. I am experiencing calmness and peace. My mind is not clouded, and I can focus more clearly. I am finding courage and confidence. One of the most amazing things is that I am experiencing increased productivity, even though I am taking time to rest. Developing a habit of regular intervals of rest has been life-changing for me.
Use these words to help you discover the keys to rest in your own life:
R- relaxation, refreshment, recovery
E- enjoyment, energizes, enriches
S- satisfaction, self- awareness, seasonal
T- thankful, thoughts, truth
Remember that the keys to rest may be different for each of us. It is my hope that this will help you find yours today!
May you begin to practice true rest on a regular basis and experience the many blessings it yields, my friend.
Blessings to you dear one!
Exodus 34:21 "You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working, even during the seasons of plowing and harvest."
NLT:New Living Translation. https://www.bible.com/bible/116/exo.34.21.NLT