On the 7th Day, there was rest…
We see it all throughout the Old Testament of the Bible. Here are some examples:
Genesis 2:2: By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Exodus 16:26: Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.
Numbers 26:25: On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.
Similar to what happens in school, when the teacher repeatedly says it, it is important! Yet, there are few of us who actively engage in rest, finding peace, moments of solace, or even maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. With such great emphasis within the Bible and from your regular doctor, why do you think rest is so important and why do we often overlook such a necessity? I want to offer some things for you to consider, and some options for finding small and large moments to get there. It is because our bodies, minds, reasoning abilities thrive on such periods! I do realize that in a fast paced world it is often hard to find it, but it is possible.
Benefits Are Vast
In case you are in a place where you need some persuading, consider some recent articles on this topic. If we consider sleep itself, we find there are a number of benefits in relation to improved memory, maintaining a healthy weight and improved concentration (http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20459221,00.html). Making rest a priority also helps to serve as a protective barrier for your heart and immune system (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/stress-awareness-day-relaxation-benefits_n_1424820.html) .
If we consider the benefits to our mental health, rest and relaxation are also strongly tied to this area. Because of its tie to neurological factors, making sure to remain rested is also tied to the neurological aspects of many disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, and even our ability to effectively work through problems and cope with stress (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why).
There are also a number of ways these benefits can be generalized
Within the work environment, improvements in concentration and memory can help you to remain more focused during the day during projects and when engaging with clients (http://www.thinkhealthmag.com/how-rest-and-relaxation-benefits-you/). However, there are also benefits within our interpersonal relationships as well. For example, there are qualitative studies who indicate with regular engagement in Yoga, they were able to see improvements in their attitude and perspectives that also changed how patient and kind they were, and overall level of self-awareness (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4196270/)
While it would be great to have a day each week, there are also weeks that move too fast for us and we have to steal small moments in the day. The great thing is that we can get creative with how we pursue moments of peace! Think of those things you love. If you are creative, keeping adult coloring books, scrapbooking materials, and even online apps for making and creating things can provide small moments to allow you to disconnect from the world. When I know rough weeks are approaching, I also create Pinterest boards that provide encouragement to me. It is a beautiful onslaught of positive voices and pictures that give me a brief period of rest mentally.
For those who love music, consider developing a play list of music that encourages and inspires you to move forward. Whether by phone or computer, free apps through youtube.com, Pandora and others provide ways to create lists that become our own.
You can also find ways to grab small bursts of energy through exercise during the day. There are amazing 7 minute apps you can download on your phone designed to help with cardio. You can also use 15 minute breaks at work to walk and escape your work area. Using youtube.com, (and depending on how much space you have access to) you can also tap into short videos and even small segments that focus on meditation and yoga from instructors across the globe.
You can also find ways to jump into a deep breathing exercise. There is a great article on this area, as well as the benefits of each type of deep breathing exercise by the American Institute on Stress (http://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath/). Consider reviewing it and then find an app and/or program that might fit into your schedule. When you are ready, there are tons of apps that can help you make this step, and many are free.
This has been a long path for me. And, I have gotten more serious about blocking out time as I have gotten older. I had a ton of excuses for not pursing such moments in early adulthood, such as a lack of time, having too much work to accomplish, and even “mommy” guilt in relation to not doing something more active with my children. But, in the last year, I have made the commitment to only using Sundays for church and my family. It has been life changing for me. We spend that day connecting, talking, laughing over good food and what we learned at church and mentally preparing for the week. We are also more prepared for “Monday”. Throughout the week I steal moments throughout the day. I read a devotional as soon as I awaken before I disturb my kids. And, although I usually work through lunch, I stop for at least 10 minutes of it to refocus with either music or a devotional. A goal for my family is that we spend 30 minutes exercising every day, in some way. But, on one of those days we take a family walk, which provides a different energy for us that also allows for connection. Making these sacrifices are hard some times when I see the list of things to do on my calendar, but it has had a positive impact in my own life. I hope that carving out such times, small or large, will have a positive impact for yours as well.