I spent years getting up at 5:00 am to work out and staying up until well past 11:00 either watching TV or piddling around the house. I felt like I was always working, and yet when my husband came home and asked me what I did all day, sometimes I couldn’t even remember. I felt tired and foggy all the time.
So last year I decided things would be different. I started mindfully practicing rituals, rhythms, and rest.
Now, I’m sleeping a solid eight hours every night.
I still work out 5-6 days a week.
I have plenty of time to spend with friends.
I started a company, am the President of a large healthcare organization in North Georgia, volunteer for multiple community agencies, am the room mom in my daughter’s class, lead two Bible studies, homeschool my son, and write this blog.
And best of all, I get to read books I like, watch my favorite shows, and take an occasional weekend trip.
I’m not telling you all this because I want a pat on the back. I’m telling you all this because the years I spent NOT doing #allthethings were some of the most life-draining years of my life.
So how am I getting MORE rest, even in the midst of what seems like MORE activities and obligations?
All that time I spent not resting.
You know what that was about?
It was about my fear.
Fear that if I didn’t then God wouldn’t.
Fear that I was missing out.
Fear that wasn’t even grounded in reality but instead predicated on the * mostly * untrue thoughts swirling around in my own head.
All that swirling didn’t help me get more done. Instead, it just kept me from getting the sleep I desperately craved. I woke up foggy and grouchy, planning when I could take a nap or rest my eyes before my feet even hit the floor.
But it didn’t have to be that way!
That’s why we started this series talking about rituals and rhythms.
Do you ever feel high strung, irritable, skittish, and restless?
Are you always on high alert, ready to pounce?
If you’re thinking, “Hey, I have a dog who acts like that!” then you’re in good company. I have an unruly Yorkie named Hammy. He loves to drive me crazy, barking his head off at everything and everyone and taking himself for long walks when I’m not paying attention.
Hammy is tense.
That’s an understatement.
Hammy needs a nap.
But unfortunately he’s a dog, not a toddler, and he doesn’t understand English. I can’t put him down for a nap when I think he needs one. And I can’t keep him asleep with all the distractions ricocheting around our house: kids and doorbells and kitchen timers and oh, did I mention there’s actually TWO dogs vying for everyone’s attention?
It’s a zoo.
It’s impossible to shut out all the noise in our real-life Animal House.
I saw a friend yesterday who has a a three year old and a newborn. She was headed to the doctor to get some Ambien, because even though her younger daughter now sleeps through the night, my friend doesn’t know how to turn off her “mom brain” and just…REST.
I get it. Rest doesn’t come easy for some of us.
Less chaos + More productivity = More Rest. RIGHT???
You will not find rest just because your kids are growing up.
You will not find rest just because you checked some things off of your to-do list.
Rest takes training and patience. And if that sounds like the same skills it takes to run a marathon, you’re not wrong. I wish I could write a blog post about five easy ways to get more rest. Five simple tricks. People would read that, but I’ve found that most things in life really do take time.
Remember: Spend time reflecting on what you’ve accomplished during the day. Don’t dwell on what you didn’t get done. It’s what you did get done that makes the difference.
Observe: What do you need to do tomorrow? Get everything out of your brain. Write it all down. This is called the Parking Lot method. It basically means that you get everything out of your head and park it somewhere for later. Instead of making a to-do list. Create a success list. What would make today a successful day? Write down just those things and do them.
Listen: Pay attention to what’s important. Eighty percent of the stuff we think about doesn’t even matter. Heck, most of the stuff we think about isn’t even about us. Listen to understand.
Find joy in the present: Are you safe? Are you warm? Do you love your family?
Our unrest is predicated on fear—fear that “it won’t” if “I don’t.”
But in not resting we find that we’re stressed out, burned out, and just plain tired. We want to quit, but instead we just keep going and going and going.
And that’s a recipe for disaster.
It’s too easy to end up like my dog, Hammy, who is territorial and stinky and just plain annoying.
Hammy has a big bark, but I often find him trembling like a leaf. Really, he’s just a big scaredy cat.
And we are too. We’re scaredy cats in human bodies.
I often tell myself that I’m working all the time when the reality is I’m scrolling through social media or texting friends.
Rest is not the same as avoidance.
Rest is not the same as silence.
Rest is not a waste of time.
Tell the truth about your life—your work and your rest.
Both are planned, purposeful, and peaceful.
1) How can I plan for both work and rest?
2) What is my purpose for resting during this day, this week, or this season? Am I being intentional about blocking time for periods of productivity and pause?
3) Does what I’m doing when I’m not doing the most important things bring me peace?
We fear what we don’t understand and can’t control.
Ask for wisdom (you’ll find it—I promise) and release what you can’t control. Even if you’re a control freak, you don’t have to control everything. You do you, boo. Let go of the fear.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Fast Company Magazine:
“No matter how crazy your days get, make sure you carve out and ruthlessly protect just 90 minutes—20% of an eight-hour day—for the most important tasks. “Even if you squander the remaining 80% of the day, you can still make great progress if you have spent 90 minutes on your goals or priorities.”
That’s good news for us. That leaves a full six and a half hours for rest. Use the time wisely.