5 Strategies for Purposeful Rest
Is it just me or is this year flying by? We are halfway through and I feel like the busiest seasons are still ahead. John and I had a Sync Meeting the other day and discovered that we're booked solid until the fall. It'll be Christmastime before we know it.
What's a Sync Meeting, you ask? Well, stay tuned, I'll be writing about those in the near future.
(UPDATE: Find my post on Sync Meetings here.)
I recently began reading Kevin DeYoung's Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem. I've literally just started it so I'll wait to give you the recommendation, however, I chose this book because I've sensed that really big problem in my own life--I'm just too busy. Marriage, family, housemates, multiple ministries, full-time work, and social activities make up my general rhythm, and it's so easy to feel so unrested all the time. Moving forward into even more busy seasons ahead I want to be purposeful about getting good rest in the midst of the busyness. I can't change my circumstances right now, but I can change how I react to them. So, here are 5 strategies that I want to employ through the chaos.
1. Grab it where you can, when you can.
Rest doesn't have to mean a 2 hour nap. Have a 30-minute lunch break? Take your lunch outside and have a quick picnic. Kids napping? Coffee + a good book. An hour in between appointments? Keep blankets in the trunk of your car or sit out in the backyard with study materials. Of course, there may be necessary work that needs to be done during those time slots, but the point is to prioritize rest and self-care. We all know that it's true that we don't do things well when we are burnt out.
2. Don't be afraid to say "no".
Carrying that thought further, prioritizing rest and self-care will sometimes mean cutting some things out or not taking on more things. "No" has always been a hard word for me to say. I don't like disappointing people. As I've gotten older though, I've realized that if I give myself away to everyone and everything, I come to the end of myself. I have to choose what I will give the best of myself to, and some things just don't make the cut (tweet that).
3. Be prepared.
I love to make plans and schedules and spreadsheets; if it can be color-coded, I'm there. I'm so quick to plan to do all the other things in my life, why can't I plan for the rest? I'm in a season of my life where most of my time is blocked off for things (work, ministry, date night, cooking, etc.). I need to be able to schedule rest time also. Even if it's a half an hour of planned reading-for-pleasure, that scheduled rest time will be fuel to keep me going through all of my other plans. Being prepared also means thinking ahead toward my future schedule and knowing how much to take on at one time and if and when to say no.
4. Don't distract yourself.
This one may be a touchy one. Have you ever had a block of free time, say 45 minutes here or there, and spent it entirely scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest? I know I have. Somehow, 45 minutes later, I look up from my phone and realize that 45 minutes have passed and I'm now late to my next appointment. I usually don't feel energized or inspired by my time spent and I find myself wishing I had done something different. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Instagram and Pinterest. I also love veg days in front of Netflix. I am not against mindless entertainment in the least, and I don't believe that social media is always mindless entertainment (I love utilizing Pinterest for my menu planning, for example). I am realizing that I am a fan of purposeful rest, however. What are the things that make me feel energized and inspired? If I have small windows of time I want to be investing in myself with those types of activities so that I can re-fuel vs. distract.
5. Get outside.
I don't know about where you are right now, but Northern California is just lovely this time of year, and most times of year. :) I spend most of my time indoors, in an office, in my home, in my church, in the store; but there really is something about being outside. There are all sorts of sciencey reasons why and how being outside helps us, including sharpening our focus, helping us relax, and making us happy. I want to try and be more intentional about getting outside, even if it's just being in my backyard to read or have a cup of coffee.
BONUS: Make it meaningful.
Ultimately, as a Christian, our rest is found in Jesus Christ. St. Augustine wrote, "You made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You." I know for a fact that when I feel overwhelmed and frazzled it is an indicator that I have been pursuing things, even good things, before Christ. Purposeful rest will always come straight back to the gospel and finding my identity in what Christ has done over anything that I have done or could do for myself (tweet that).
And that's that, friends. What are your rest-full strategies? I'd love to hear them.
Here's to a busy and restful and wonderful summer.