Deliberate Rest

sleep

There is something about American (aka United States) culture that dictates a constant push mentality. I often feel that if I am not busy and stressed out that I am not trying hard enough nor am I going to be successful. Sound familiar?

There is a time and place for stress and pressure. It can give us an extra push in accomplishing a goal, help us focus, develop a new physique, or better yet create diamonds! But often the stress levels that we allow ourselves to experience are unhealthy and out of control. The stress enslaves us and we become monsters unto ourselves and to our families. We beat ourselves up for not achieving this or that, we shut down and avoid activities and people we love, and we are frustrated that the world seems to be telling us how to run our lives.

Now this won’t solve all of your problems, but it is time that you schedule deliberate rest. I don’t mean coming home and being too tired to do anything. I am talking about a planned day of rejuvenation. I did this recently when I was sick, so I didn’t have much choice in the matter, but it completely changed my life.

I decided was going to stay in bed for a few days while I recovered from a cold. I took a hot shower with a big, lovely bar of fancy, almond soap, put on my most comfortable PJs, slipped into a bed with clean linens (thanks to my husband), turned on one of my favorites series on Netflix (The Tudors) as well as a few movies I had been meaning to watch, ate all of my meals picnic style on my bed, napped whenever I pleased, and barely took any phone calls.

I’m learning that there is an art to rest. That it’s not in what you do, but in how you do it. The key is to be present to the moment while you are experiencing it. Activate your senses during these times of rest. I loved the smell and feel of the clean sheets on the bed, the way my food tasted, and the dreams that I had when I napped. Be aware that you are enjoying this time and don’t fret about things that are outside of it. Time with and by yourself makes you realize that there is no point in worrying about things that you cannot immediately put your hands or wrap your mind around. There will be time for all of it and that time is not now. (Furthermore, I wonder if we get in our own way or “block our blessings” by pushing ourselves into a stress lifestyle; we don’t have to do everything by ourselves. We need to recognize and make peace with what is out of our control. More about that at another time.)

I cannot explain how or why, but my few days of planned rest have given me a sense of peace that I have never experienced before and, surprisingly, I have been able to sustain this sense of tranquility. Of course I’ve experienced stressors since then, but I’ve been able to roll with things so much more easily. I even received some extremely disappointing news; I cried for ten minutes, was better able to process what I was feeling, and then I was on to the next thing.

Take a moment to think about what would make you feel relaxed, peaceful, and centered. Schedule a day to experience those activities. You may need to do a little prep work first so that this time is truly enjoyable. Maybe make sure all the dishes are done, pick up your favorite bubble bath, get a bottle of wine, or contact friends and family to let them know that you won’t be answering your phone. This may take some practice; you may find that things that once felt restful no longer fit your new spirit. Throw out some ideas in the comments box! I’d love to add some new ideas to my rest repertoire!

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