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? 

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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!

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