On Rest(oration)—Part II

In Part I of this series, I wrote about the different aspects of rest and why it’s important. This post is focused on the practicals—simple tips and tools to rest and find restoration.

Take a Sabbath.

In my last post I mentioned The Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner as the inspiration for my experiment in taking a full 24-hour Sabbath from studying and working during nursing school. During this experiment, I discovered the Sabbath does not have to be the traditional midnight-to-midnight day; it could mean sundown-to-sundown in the traditional Jewish sense, or it could mean noon-to-noon or whatever other 24-hour period fit the natural flow of my days. Regardless of when I took a Sabbath, setting aside 24 consecutive hours allowed my mind to unwind. Generally, it took about 3-4 hours for my mind to wind down from breakneck college-schedule speed and begin enjoying the freedom of time specifically dedicated to rest.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Give yourself permission.

This is a tool I initially learned from Rocky Reentry in a post giving readers permission not to have everything figured out when moving back “home” from overseas. This spoke deeply to me, and I began consciously giving myself permission for other things, as well: permission to make mistakes, permission not to be productive, and permission for many other things. In fact, I created a general list of my “Permissions for Life” and later wrote another list of “Permissions for Reentry” after I moved back from Cambodia. Consciously granting myself permission for things has possibly been one of the most powerful tools I have found to unlock a mindset of productivity and embrace rest and restoration.

Start limiting social events.

Throughout life, our capacities for obligations, working, and social events will vary. In college, I could handle one (or more!) social event every day. In times of depression, I could handle one social event a week. However, when facilitating rest, the question is not “What is the maximum number of events/hours of work I can handle?” Rather, the focus is on health—for example, “Will going to this event leave me drained and exhausted, or will it restore me?” Redefining goals and success to target health and not productivity promotes balance and inherently encourages rest.

Plan to Rest.

I have a friend who schedules blocks of time to be at home, resting, throughout the week. If someone asks to meet during one of these blocks of time, she tells them she already has something scheduled—because she does. She just doesn’t tell them the meeting is with her pillow to sleep in for that one morning out of the week! Telling people “no” is difficult—even harder for me is telling work “no” when they ask me to come in, but when I dedicate days or blocks of time in advance to allow myself to rest and recuperate, it’s easier to politely decline requests for my time. Occasionally, I even tell people “I have plans already” because I do—plans to rest!

Ultimately, rest is something to be learned.

When I first started taking a Sabbath in college, my brain simply did not know how to stop racing, analyzing, and studying. In fact, initially it increased my stress level because I worried I was wasting time. It took time and witnessing firsthand how rest increased my productivity throughout the week and paid off in the emotional and spiritual realms before I learned to relax and allow myself to take a break from working and studying. Likewise, when I first moved back from Cambodia and was working part-time and had very few friends (and therefore social events), it was uncomfortable and felt lonely. Yet with time, I began to adjust, learning to be grateful for the extra time to process experiences and emotions and utilize it accordingly.

I am still learning about rest—how to rest, when to rest, what “rest” is. In the midst of all this learning, one thing remains the same: the more I experience rest, the more confident I am that rest is nothing less than essential and healing to my soul.


What are practical way you incorporate rest into your routine? Have you noticed a difference in your week when you set aside time to rest? 

Thanks for reading! Want to subscribe?

* indicates required

On Rest(oration)—Part I

A few weeks ago, one of my all-time heroes, Shawn Shannon, sat at my kitchen table and talked about rest. She explained that her season of life was in flux, and she asked if I had any nuggets of wisdom on resting. I found it curious that she thought I had anything to offer when it came to this topic, as my nature is to stay on my hamster wheel of perfectionism and focus on productivity over everything else.

Shawn was patient as I thought. In my head I reviewed the past couple years, and I realized I had learned quite a bit on resting, though much of it was not of my own volition. In the time since our conversation, I have been mulling over how to rest, and here is what I have gathered.

Rest is unnatural—or is it?

Setting aside time to rest is unnatural. The business principles we cling to tell us the more we work or the more productive we are, the greater the profit. In college I began to learn about the benefits of rest when I read about the Jewish Sabbath in The Mudhouse Sabbath; I started taking a Sabbath from studying and working during nursing school and was astonished to find my grades actually improved! What started as a difficult discipline soon became one of my favorite, most refreshing parts of the week. Our first thought may not be to prioritize rest, but our bodies were created to need it. 

The amount of rest we need ebbs and flows along with seasons of life.

While I was in school, an entire 24 hours without studying was enough to fuel the rest of the week. However, last year after living in Cambodia for a few months and moving back to the United States, both my soul and my body were in desperate need of greater rest than a single day could offer. I dove into the first season of rest I had ever encountered.

When I returned to Waco, I found many of my friends had moved, so most of my free days were spent alone—and I had plenty of free days! I began working part-time hours as a nurse, but my applications for other jobs fell through. Though I never would have chosen an empty schedule and a season of rest immediately following my return to the States, it is exactly what I needed.

Living in Cambodia was taxing. I had struggled with depression, and I had poured massive amounts of energy into learning the language and culture of a new country. I had been in a state of “hyper-awareness” for months to avoid cultural faux-pas. I had been intentional about investing in my English students, and I had worked hard to learn how to teach effectively. I loved living in Cambodia—but it took more out of me than I realized! It was a season of high intensity learning and effort, and I needed a season of intense rest afterward.

Rest provides time for healing.

When we sleep, our brains categorize memories and thoughts, and our bodies start to repair the wear-and-tear damage from the day. Likewise, our souls and hearts need time to process events and integrate them into the delicate, unique network of experiences that makes us, us.

To make the most of this time, I have found tools such as reflection and journaling invaluable. Additionally, therapy, counseling, life coaching, and good ol’ coffee dates with friends can help us be intentional about making the most of a season of rest.

Rest is holistic.

Of course, sleeping in and taking naps are one form of rest (and one of my favorites)! Though this covers the physical aspect of rest, we also benefit from mental, emotional, and spiritual rest. I find mental rest when I read a good fiction book, watch television, or spend time drawing or painting. These activities require very little mental stimulation. Emotionally, I find rest during visits with my therapist as well as when I run or exercise. When I jog, I find I am more focused on the physical realm than the emotional—and since I have a tendency to get “stuck in my head,” exercise can be very helpful for me. Finally, spiritual rest can be found in a variety of ways. It can be found listening to music while I run, praying every morning, or meditating. Rest for everyone looks different, but it always involves more than physically sleeping.

These are just a few of my observations on rest! How do you experience holistic rest? What are the benefits of rest, and do you find it natural to incorporate rest into your lifestyle? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment or send me an email—and stay tuned for Part II, where I’ll talk about the practical tips I’ve found that lead to restoration!

Thanks for reading! Want to subscribe?

* indicates required

The Three Rushing Wolves

These past few weeks have been a flurry of traveling, joy, grief, happy reunions, moving and unpacking, praying about jobs, and learning. Lots and lots of learning.

Several months ago I posted about writer's block and life block, about the correlation between the two. (Remember this great quote by Ally Fallon? "I say that sometimes 'writer's block' is more likely 'life block' and what we really need is to find clarity and direction.")

As I continue this transition process, I keep facing more and more challenges and keep learning more and more. I've slowed down on the blog (as you may have noticed already) and am still in a season where I need time and space to continue readjusting to life in America. Thanks for your understanding and support during this season. Though it may be a little sporadic, I'll post as the writing comes naturally. One of the beauties of having this site is the freedom to wait for the writing to come to me instead of having to manufacture it for a deadline. 

However, I do miss blogging! This week I thought I'd share some writing I did long before I faced writer's block or life block or any kind of blocks aside from the colorful wooden ones.

So here is one of the first stories I ever "wrote." The Three Rushing Wolves reminds me of my passion for writing. It reminds me it's okay to leave the blog dormant for a while so when I do get back to writing, it comes from a place of pure enjoyment, just like this story. Hopefully the words will start coming again soon. (And maybe they'll be a little more profound than the story below!)

Until then, enjoy The Three Rushing Wolves (and no, I don't know why it's titled that!): a book written and illustrated by 5-year-old Allison, just for you!

*Thanks, Mom and Dad, for typing out the story, encouraging my creative pursuits...and teaching me what hydrophobia was at such a young age!

I'm in a season of rest and unwinding. What season are you in? Leave a comment or sent me an email! I look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for reading! Want to subscribe?

* indicates required

On Sabbaths and Nursing School

Throughout the past few semesters, underclassman nursing majors have asked me for tips on nursing school. The truth is, most of the time I have had no idea what to tell them. I've always felt I was still learning how to live life as a student just like anyone else. The past few weeks, however, I realized I’ve nearly reached the end. Looking back, nursing school isn't something I simply survived. It’s been an adventure – with mountaintop days and days I wanted to give up the climb. 

It’s been a journey. Just like the rest of life.

As these five demanding semesters come to a close, maybe I do have wisdom to share with those beginning nursing school. Like...use Kaplan. Keep friends who aren’t nursing majors. Don’t quit just because it’s hard. Don't take school too seriously. Don't take friendships too lightly. But perhaps the most helpful thing I could say is this:

Take a Sabbath.

When I was a freshman, I began praying about what observing the Sabbath looked like as a college student. (After all, it is one of the Ten Commandments. I think that means it’s at least semi-important to God.) I soon started taking a Sabbath from studying every weekend, from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday - which allowed for a full day of rest as well as time to study the night before a weekly Monday quiz! I found taking this break every week was beyond refreshing.

Thankfully, it became a habit.

I say “thankfully” because the next semester marked the beginning of nursing school. Many Saturday evenings I struggled to put away notes for a test I was stressed about (we nursing majors excel at stressing). Yet because it was a habit already, it was easier to close out the powerpoints, shut my binder of notes and cap the highlighter. God never failed to honor this obedience of trusting Him and His command to keep the Sabbath. 

So, I amend my advice: Take a Sabbath. And make it a habit.

The Sabbath has become precious time to me. It has demanded that I pause life and rest. Spiritually. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. This rest is different from a study break because it is an entire day. Often it takes at least a couple hours to bring the momentum of my mind's rapid pace of thoughts to a halt, which barely happens (or doesn't at all) during a study break. Furthermore, we as a culture - especially college students, and of those especially nursing students - don't like to rest. We are all about productivity and efficiency. Keeping the Sabbath has given time to rest and, in a sense, has taught me how to rest. 

And this process of learning how to stop working, worrying, and striving - this has brought incredible freedom.

Rest has ranged from afternoon naps to soccer games with friends. It has spanned semesters when I've been overly worried about grades and semesters when I've been under-worried about them and overwhelmed with social engagements.  

Regardless of the type of rest it has been, every week the Sabbath has been a day that gives, while the remainder of the week has steadily taken.

During the past three years, I have realized this: taking Sabbaths is healthy. Although it may be inconvenient or seem unnecessary at times, God intended for us to rest. Not only does it help us refocus on the Lord, but it also provides an opportunity for us to step back from life, regroup, and operate more efficiently the rest of the week. On a practical level, it encourages balance and time management and discourages Sunday afternoon cramming.

Yet the most valuable part of Sabbaths, I have found, is the sweetness of knowing the Lord more through these times of rest.

To all my fellow nursing students, don't let nursing school daunt you. Taking Sabbaths is possible. It is freeing. It is worth it. It is an opportunity to come closer to the Lord.

I have tasted, and I have seen. The sweetness of knowing the Lord more through Sabbath-keeping is far sweeter than achieving A’s in the hardest courses. It is sweeter than making a dozen new friends. It is sweeter than the RN, BSN that prayerfully will follow my name in a few short weeks.

In this journey of nursing school, it’s been true. Just like in the rest of life. 

The sweetness of knowing the Lord more is sweeter.

Thanks for reading! Want to subscribe?

* indicates required