Posted by Anne Witton on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 Under: Reflections
This post is based on a talk I did at the Student Life Hub on the subject of rest.
What is rest?
- Are resting and relaxing the same thing?
- Is rest an active or a passive thing?
- Does it mean doing something or is it about cutting things out?
How do you like to rest?
Maybe you like to sleep, watch Netflix, do crafts, sport, music, get out in nature, meditate, read, or do some gardening…
I’ve been trying over the last year or so to be much more intentional about what I do with my downtime so that I make the most of it and it energises me rather than exhausts me.
There’s nothing wrong with a Netflix binge every now and again or playing video games, but we need a balance and we need stuff that will nourish us too. It’s a bit like food - we can have a bit of junk food every now and again but we need nourishing meals regularly.
The need for rest
Ask people how they are and the most common replies you get are - busy, tired and stressed.
Lots of people are going round like zombie - permanently tired and stressed. Lack of rest affects our concentration and the ability to be truly present in the moment.
We live in a hyper-connected and always-on world where there are so many demands for our time and attention. Busyness is almost a status symbol - it makes us feel important.
But we’re not machines and it’s clear that we need rest and balance in our lives and there are a number of benefits…
Benefits of rest
- Health - resting properly keeps our bodies and minds healthy.
- Relationships - when we’re rested we’re able to invest in our friendships and relationships in a deeper way.
- It helps our thinking and restores our perspective when we take some time out.
- Rest recharges and refreshes us.
- Rest enables us to enjoy life more.
- Rest makes work more productive.
Sabbath rest in the Judeo-Christian tradition
I have learned a lot about rest from my Christian faith. The Bible speaks highly of rest - indeed it’s a repeated theme throughout scripture.
We’re told that after God had created the world, he rested. Not because he gets tired, but more because his work was complete and there was joy and satisfaction in stepping back and taking pleasure in his work.
One of the 10 commandments is to rest! (To have one day a week as a ‘Sabbath’ where you don’t do your normal work).
The reason is that there is a natural cycle of work and rest. We need balance. Life has a natural rhythm and our bodies, minds and souls need rest and refreshment.
Rest restores our perspective - it enables us to let go of control and trust God. The world will keep turning if we take some time out.
The religious leaders in Jesus’ day tried to make the Sabbath all about rules - another thing to add to the ‘to do’ list. Jesus overturned their harsh demands and joyless rule-keeping by saying “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
I find my ultimate rest in Jesus - rest from the things that trouble me and rest from the need to work to make myself acceptable to him. He invites us to come as we are and receive his rest.
Some practical tips for better rest
- Prepare for rest. Just like you pack for a holiday - decide where you’ll go, what you’ll take etc. Block out unplanned and unstructured time to just do nothing. Also plan time for structured activity like hobbies, time with friends etc.
- Have a digital detox - turn your phone off, don’t watch TV. Leave phone / laptop outside the bedroom.
- Get outside - enjoy sport and nature.
- Enjoy family and friends - play games, talk about important stuff, make music, enjoy a craft or hobby together.
- Stop clock-watching. Escape from the Western obsession with marking the passing of time by leaving your watch and phone at home.
- Put down your burdens - you can pick them up again tomorrow.
- Walk and use all your senses - see, smell, hear, taste, touch. Slow down and soak it in.
- Change your attitude - don’t think of rest as a waste of time. It’s a chance to top up energy, be refreshed and have our perspectives renewed.
- Think about different types of rest for body, mind and soul. We all need physical rest, mental rest, emotional rest and social rest.
- Work out whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert and therefore how much of your downtime you need to spend alone.
- Have a change of scene - if the house is a mess, get outside. If the weather’s horrible, find a cosy coffee shop to hang out in.
- Be disciplined about the rhythm of life - have regular bed times, exercise, watch your diet and practice mindfulness.
- Have a go at meditation.
Some questions to ponder
- What things do you like to do to rest and recuperate? Do you have any hobbies that help you to feel energised and refreshed?
- Do you find it easy or difficult to relax? Why do you think that is?
- Do you feel like you get enough time to reflect on your life? Why / why not?
- What do you think of the idea of ‘Sabbath’ rest? Do you think you’d like to have a Sabbath day a week? Why / why not?
- What do you make of Jesus’ invitation to come to him for rest?
- What one thing do you think you could change to help you benefit more from your downtime and achieve a good balance between work and rest in your life?
Go a step further with this guide to Sabbath Rest from Saturate.
In : Reflections
Tags: rest retreat solitude sabbath