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 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.

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