Warning: Long post ahead!
Are you getting enough rest? I don’t mean the kind where you rest your head against the back of the car-seat at traffic lights. I’m talking about an extended rest, when you don’t answer the phone, you don’t turn on the computer, you don’t do laundry, you don’t go shopping. All you do is rest.
How is it that our ancestors had the same 24 hours in a day, with no washing machines, no dishwashers, no microwaves, no computers, no fax machines, no cell-phones, no pagers, no disposable diapers, and yet they found time to sit on the front porch after a long day’s work?
All of our modern devices are meant to save us time, but they’ve become an enabler, of sorts. Instead of taking a few minutes to sit a spell and do nothing, after putting that load of laundry on to wash, we sit at the computer and engage in meaningless activity that requires our eyes to focus, our hands to move, our brain to connect.
Such activities, even as harmless as they seem, can produce more stress in our lives, giving us less time to rest.
The harsh truth is resting is not a priority for many people. They claim they don’t have time to rest. They are caught up in the mind-set that we need to fit as many activities into our daily lives as there are waking hours.
We sign our children up to play a myriad of sports, then spend hours on the roads, shuttling them back and forth. We agree to make homemade brownies for the fourth-grade Christmas party, when the boxed kind would have worked just as well. We volunteer to make a dozen craft projects for the fall bazaar, when we know Aunt Ida and Uncle Bill are coming for their yearly visit. In short, we run ourselves ragged trying to accomplish it all.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a lack of adequate rest is responsible for all sorts of problems. Here are just a few:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased feelings of stress
- Inability to handle minor irritations
- Inability to perform tasks involving memory or logical reasoning
- Increased absence from work
- Psychiatric problems
- Increased risk of accidents—at home, on the job and on the road
Too much stress, and not enough rest, can also create serious health problems. Doctor Redford Williams, a behavioral medicine expert at Duke University Medical Center says there is a strong connection between stress and poor health. “What stress does, in all different forms, is lower resistance to all pathogens,” he says. This leaves people more susceptible to infections and even some cancers.”
If you study the life of Christ, you will discover that He was never in a hurry. He took time to rest, to talk to children, to get away from the crowds, to be alone with His Father, even when the people pressed against Him.
I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but making a few decisions can change your life:
Create a Reasonable Schedule
I won't re-write the post I wrote about this last March, but creating a schedule for yourself can make you feel like a new woman. You can read this post here, but don't get so distracted you forget to come back. (wink, wink)
Limit Your Obligations
Learning to say no is difficult for many people. They fear they will be ridiculed or that somebody will stop liking them. They want to please everyone at all times. They believe they are disappointing God whenever they say no to helping out in every church and school function that comes along.
I’m all for getting involved in church activities and community projects. The secret lies in knowing how to prioritize and limit your commitments.
For example, if you teach Sunday school, organize fellowships, work in the nursery, serve on the youth committees, sing in the choir, direct school plays, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy clinic, deliver meals to senior citizens, teach a weekly Bible Study, and head up the ladies auxiliary, on top of your obligations at home, you’re stretching yourself dangerously thin.
There is no way you can be successful at anything when you try to do it all. In his epistle, James warned that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). There’s nothing wrong with not being able to do it all. You are, after all, one person. You have limitations. How much better it is when you focus on a specific area. Not only will you be more successful, you will be able to schedule time for rest and relaxation without feeling guilty.
Stop Trying to be Perfect
Attempting perfection can drive you and your family bonkers. It also leaves little room for anything else in your life—including a relationship with God. If we were perfect, we would have no use for God’s mercy, grace, forgiveness or help.
One of my favorite verses of Scripture comes from Psalm 6:2 where David says: “Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak.” I have often quoted this verse while in prayer. I am weak. I am not perfect. I can’t be perfect. I am human. I can’t do it all. Lord, I need your help.
If you struggle with perfectionism, I encourage you to ask God to help you learn a better way. It is not His will that you go through life worrying and stressed out. The Bible is filled with Scriptures that admonish us to “wait patiently,” to “rest in the Lord,” to “be still.”
There are a number of ways you can better your life and get the victory over a perfectionist attitude. Begin by asking for help from family members. Children can fold towels or set a table. The job may not be done to perfection, but resist the urge to correct and criticize their mistakes.
I recall the first time I asked my daughter to fold a load of towels for me. She was about six at the time and the results were lopsided and uneven—a perfectionist’s nightmare. But just as I was about to offer assistance, the thought hit me right between the eyes: It’s just a towel, for crying out loud! What difference does it really make how it’s folded under the counter? Who will see it?
I was pleasantly surprised at the relief that came when I accepted her less-than-perfect attempt. It was OK. It was really OK. And I am happy to report that all these years later, I no longer worry about how the towels are folded.
When you learn to let others do things around the house, you may not get perfection, but it’s one less thing you’ll have on your to-do list, and it takes you one step closer to that comfy recliner where you can put your feet up for a time of pure rest.
Find Small Ways to Rest
If you don’t have large slices of time in which to rest, don’t fret. There are countless small ways to grab a few minutes for regrouping and refueling your energies. Here are a few:
- Soak your worries away in an extended candle-lit bath, with the door locked.
- Turn off your phone, turn on some soothing music, and recline on the sofa for at least 30 minutes.
- Sit outside and watch a sunrise or sunset.
- Lay flat on your back in the grass and gaze at the heavens for a solid 15 minutes, or until your eyes close.
It’s easy to get so busy and tangled up in the trappings of this present world, that we lose sight of the daily miracles of life itself. Making time for quiet and rest is essential in order to reap the abundant life God wants us to have.
This post is taken from my book, Home Improvement (9 Steps To Living A Joyful Life). All rights reserved.