No, I am not talking about working yourself into the ground and falling asleep, stuporous on your sofa. I read a book on leadership by Reverend Nolan McCants and ironically, the first chapter is on rest! In today’s crazy world, with busy schedules, school, work, home, marriage, children, church, volunteer commitments etc, how do we get ourselves some rest?
1. Not an option: Realize that rest is not just another option. It is compulsory. If you are over scheduled, buy all means, “schedule” some rest into your busy day! You need time to relax and unwind, free from physical and mental exertion. It is part of the balanced life. When you rest
2. Daily: Try to carve out 1 hour a day to rest( not sleeping) and relax. It depends on your schedule. It may be after work, during a lunch break( not a working lunch). You will feel refreshed and able to carry on your activities.If you are super busy, here is a place to start: 1 hour a day of quiet time taken at different times, in 15 minute increments at different times of the day. As the name implies, during this quiet time, you are quiet, ideally in a dark room with no phone, no radio, no books and no noise. Just sit with your eyes closed and listen to your breathing. Think about relaxing things, not work, or bills, your grades, or your kids school projects. Just relax.
3. Weekly: Give yourself a day off. Do not feel guilty. It is important to have a day to rejuvenate and let your hair down. I sometimes have a pajama day where I stay in pajamas all day long so that I don’t get tempted to leave the house! If you cannot do a whole day, start with 12 hours. This will also force you to make better use of the time that you have and plan adequately for your rest.
4. Vacations: They do not have to be expensive. Short trips, stay-cations, “vacations” to visits family; time off work just to putter around the house- these all help you to rest and renew your strength. After a long stretch of being busy( where your daily and weekly rest times were sacrificed on the altar of “busyness”) you should try to find time, as the budget allows, to take a break for a few days. If you do not plan for a break, it will never happen.
5. Avoid false rest: Using your rest periods to do more work is not resting. So even if you are not “at work” and you are at home scrubbing floors, or mowing the lawn, just realize that is not rest. Once not too long ago, I said to my husband, “I’m only working three days this week”. He gently reminded me that based on my schedule, I was actually working all seven days that week! Value and protect your downtime.
6. Planning: With more careful planning of your day, week, month or year, you would be able to make time for rest periods. Do not let life just happen to you. Take charge. Do not live from one emergency to another, like some sort of crisis manager. Decide what you want. Come up with a plan to make it happen. Act on it.
7. Avoid guilt: Please do not feel guilty for taking rest. One of the things to remember is that you are a better person, having rested. You are better equipped to take care of your family and yourself. With proper rest you are less likely to fall prey to stress related illnesses.
Remember this: “REST IS NOT JUST AN OPTION”