Have you ever come home from a vacation still feeling tired, as if you needed to take a vacation from your vacation? Or how about the feeling that its sunday night and you still don’t feel rested… like you’re not yet ready for the week. Maybe you don’t know how to rest. True rest, doesn’t just happen. It needs to be intentional.
It’s been a while since my last post. The week-long flood here in Pasig took a real toll on my routine. For the first week, I wasn’t able to go to work. For the first 2 weeks, I wasn’t able to go to the gym. I did enjoy all the time I spent playing with my daughter, but near the end of the first week I started to get “cabin fever”. I was restless and wanted… needed… to go outside and do something.
It was weird. I had all this free time, but I wasn’t productive, and I wasn’t rested. At the end of the first week, I still felt tired. Looking back over the past few weeks since the flood, I got to thinking what real rest is, and what it is not.
What rest is not…
- Rest is different from sleep.
- Rest is not just “not working,” or “not doing anything”
- Rest is not “emptying your mind”
What rest is…
Real rest, the kind where you’re refreshed and creative after, is the absence or anxiety, on every level of being. It means the whole being is rested. I’ve written in a previous post that we are made up of a body, a soul and a spirit. If you only rest your body, but your soul is still anxious or your mind is still thinking about something, then you are not rested. Personally, I find that I am not able to rest my body if my mind is running. Or I am not able to rest my soul, if I have “spiritual anxiety” (more on this later). To be well rested, we need to be able to rest the body, soul and spirit.
How to rest your body
- Get some exercise! Exert yourself! The body’s natural state is a cycle of exertion and rest. We don’t do very well in steady state. It may be counter intuitive at first to exercise when you want to rest, but the best rest is really after a good workout. 🙂
- Eat some good food. Sleep is the time when your body replenishes glycogen, repairs cells and builds muscle. It needs nutrients to do this. Eating a good meal of complex carbohydrates, good quality protein, and good fats (mono/polyunsaturated) will help bring your body back into its proper cycle. Try to avoid simple sugars, as this will result in a sugar high, and then an energy crash… which is not the kind of rest that you want.
- Take a nap.
- Make sure your soul and spirit are rested.
How to rest your soul
Your soul is your mind, will and emotions.
- Write things down. When I find my mind to be jumping around from topic to topic, it helps immensely to make a list or a mind map. I am able to focus better when I try to write things down one at a time. When I finish writing, I usually feel a lot more relaxed.
- Take a step back. Take a walk or do something totally unrelated. When I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall to a problem I’m working on, I do something else. My workout time is actually very restful to me because I’m not thinking of anything else.
- Exercise and eat good food. It’s a fact that our physical well-being is tied together with our mental and emotional state. Alcohol affects emotions and decision-making. Eating something sweet gives a certain amount of pleasure.
- Let your mind be led. Sometimes, we can be ‘too deliberate’. When we try to think of solutions to problems, when we’re sad and continually replay events in our heads… stuff like that. During those times, it is good to let your mind follow someone else’s lead. Give your will a rest. Read a book, watch a movie, find a good storyteller. If it’s close to you, stare at nature for a while: ants working, the waves of the ocean, the clouds.
How I rest my spirit
(Disclaimer: everyone has his or her own spiritual ideas/leanings. Please don’t think that I’m trying to convert your to my own beliefs. This is just what works with me. If you benefit from reading it, then I will be happy.)
Deep down in our spirits is where faith and doubt, fear and hope live. If you’re full of doubts and fears, it will affect your soul and body. The same is true if you are full with faith and hope. Sometimes, like when we worry, no amount of exercise or sleep, or writing lists will make us feel refreshed. The deep-rooted fear or worry or anxiety must be addressed by truth.
- Let go. I really believe that my Creator has a master plan for everything. He knows what’s going on and is in control. But sometimes I forget this and put too much pressure on myself to “perform”. Reminding myself that I am just living out His plan releases me from this pressure. I am following Him instead of mapping my own course. Suddenly the fear of failure is gone.
- Pray. I ask God to touch the specific areas of my life.
- Read my bible. Since many fears and doubts are based on my own notions of what might happen, I need to renew my mind with God’s truth, and align myself with the true north.
- Waiting on God. It’s a bit like “letting my mind be led” in the soul section. I let my mind wander around what I’ve read, prayed for and whatever comes to mind. There are sometimes “eureka” moments where I believe that God gives new wisdom and ideas. In other times, it is just a renewed peace, and faith in Him. The best ideas of my life have come out of this time of waiting on God.
We are made to be creative. And Creativity flows when we experience real rest. I’m no expert in rest, as many times I am still overworked and over-committed. But I have my moments and I hope to get more. 🙂
Question for you: How do you rest? Do you have any tricks that I can try?
- How to get stronger in life (mikealbano.org)