Rest isn’t something you have to earn. Human bodies are designed to need physical rest – it is essential to be able to even function. We spend one third of each 24 hour day sleeping! But mental rest is just as important. It may feel that you have to complete your obligations before you can think about resting, but allowing yourself to stop to rest will actually help you do those things and do them with a clearer mind and more energy than you could otherwise.
Rest in Real Life
Perhaps you’re not sure what mental rest even looks like. That’s common in the culture in which we live, constantly on the move. Rest can look different for each person, but one defining characteristic that is shared is intentionally taking a pause from your normal activity. It can look like playing a game with your children or being present at the dinner table without smart phones within arm’s reach. It’s made up of moments when you’re not trying to problem-solve, plan ahead or navigate schedules.
Perhaps you set a timer for 15 minutes and just sit in a quiet room with a cup of tea, allowing your mind to wander. There is no expectation for yourself – just mental space to daydream. Maybe you’re a gardener or budding artist – carve out space for those things. While there can be a fine line between self-care and indulgence, most of the time (moms especially), we could invest a little more time in things that fill our cup. You might think, “It’s not realistic for me to pull out my sketchbook every day.” That’s probably the case. So, designate 30 minutes or less on a weekday for daydreaming, reading a magazine, or whatever you decide is restful, and an hour or so on a weekend for a hobby like sketching.
Self-Discipline + Rest
It takes just a little self-discipline to hold yourself to the time you’ve designated. Isn’t it ironic that it is difficult to not do something (especially for those high achievers out there)? Once you’ve made it a habit, however, rest will become easier and you’ll protect that time because you’ve come to learn how valuable it is.
Rest often looks like receiving help from others. You don’t have to be all things at all times in all places. Rather than clinging to certain responsibilities as yours, open yourself to others. Your spouse, kids, neighbors and friends want to support you. Allow them to step in and do things that you might otherwise do. Have a friend watch your kids for the afternoon or ask your daughter to practice preparing her own lunch. It’s a chance for kids to show their trustworthiness and feel proud of their efforts. It’s also a way for those with natural skills to use them in a way that serves someone else. When you open the door for that to happen, you are actually giving them something – the joy that the opportunity produces. The outcome of regularly receiving help sets you up for a healthier approach to life – you weren’t meant to do everything yourself. It really is beautiful when people work together to meet each other’s needs.
There’s no better day than today to start implementing times of rest. There is power in down time. Tap into it and see your days transformed.
If you enjoyed this article, listen to my guest episode on the Mom, Slow Down! podcast for discussion on these ideas and more.