17 Oct The Importance of Rest
Rest does not equal laziness. I used to think that if I was sitting or resting that I was being lazy or wasting time. I was always on the go. Even when I sat in my favorite chair after dinner, I was on my computer, working or writing.
I always had another activity planned or something new I wanted to try. When someone asked how I was, I said, “Busy!”
But I want to let you in on a little secret: rest is important. And to go a step further, not only is rest important, but being busy doesn’t automatically make you productive, either.
Last week, my family and I took a much needed (LONG overdue) vacation. As we were driving, I racked my brain trying to figure out when our last “real” family vacation was.
Sure we had mini-trips for a couple days here or there. We traveled to go to weddings out of state or took the kids to do fun things. But every short trip had another reason, none of those trips were intention family time.
When I realized the last time we had actually had an official family vacation, it made me sad (and a little embarrassed honestly. I realize that I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest son when we went on a cruise. He’s 5 now. Yup, 5 ½ years. My youngest had never been on an intentional get-a-way family vacation.
It got me thinking about how intentional God was about rest. He made the world. (That makes my to do list look teeny.) And even though He didn’t need to rest after those six days, He chose to rest. To be an example to us.
Jesus emphasized the importance of rest, too. There are several times in the gospels when we read that Jesus went away to be alone. He needed a break from all those people!
He chose to rest. And if He needs rest, then I better take notice of that and rest too.
When We Neglect Rest
The reason that rest is so important is because a lot of things can happen when we ignore our need to rest. A lot of negative things. Looking back, I realize that I was experiencing them BIG time.
We get cranky.
There’s no nice way to put it. When we don’t have real, quality rest, we get mean, impatient, and overwhelmed. Not such good qualities for a mom, wife, or any person in general.
When we neglect rest, we aren’t our best selves. The most important people in our lives, our families, end up getting the leftovers.
We get sick.
A lack of rest causes our immunity to go down. Our joints get tired, our backs get sore. We get headaches. But it’s not just our physical bodies are affected by little rest.
Our minds can’t function without rest. Our spiritual hearts can’t fully focus on the Lord when we are always rushing around.
We lose our joy.
If you look around your home and you realize there is an absence of laughter, then it’s time to prioritize rest in your life.
I love my family but I realized that I wasn’t ENJOYING them. We want our children to think back to their time growing up and remember it as a happy and joyful time. Where we live happy, serve joyfully and play and laugh.
There is a right way and wrong way to rest.
Have you ever heard for the 5 love languages? Well, I’m convinced that we also have a rest language. Different people find rest in different activities.
Some people get rested and recharged in adventure. Trying new things, traveling. And adventure doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant (or a new dish at a restaurant that you frequent), or even creating a fun scavenger hunt around your home town.
Other people find rest in being with people and laughing. If this is you, you can join a softball or bowling league or have dinner with friends. A fun activity to try is a Chopped Contest. The Food Network has a show called chopped where competitors make creative dishes based on secret ingredients. Have each couple bring a mystery food and then everyone has to make a dish using every mystery ingredient!
While adventure and laughter are good, maybe you’re someone who needs alone time in order to relax. Things like enjoying a cup of tea while cuddled up with a good book, or a bubble bath come to mind.
For some, rest comes when they unplug. Turning off all the notifications and calls, not checking email or twitter and having some time off the grid. Things like hiking or even just turning off your cell phone can help to encourage rest.
There are wrong ways to rest, that we think help, but actually end up hurting us. Things like watching endless tv, surfing the net and scrolling through social media are actions that distract us from reality and that’s not true rest. We must be women of intention and choose activities that help us recharge and relax, and not activities that disconnect us from our world.
Big and Small Ways to Rest
After I got back from our vacation, I made a plan to prioritze rest for our family.
Once a Year Get-a-Way
Because my husband and I own a business, stay-cations aren’t a practical solution. We have to get away or calls from the office will have us running back to work. So we made a list of places we want to go and things we want to do and made a plan for next year.
Here are a couple tips for vacations that lead to real rest:
- Try not to schedule every moment of your vacation. Rushing and overbooking a trip creates stress, even if those activities are fun things.
- Decide what you really want. Do you want to see every landmark? Or would you rather spend more time in one place?
- Allow time for sleeping in. One thing that we did was allowed ourselves to wake up whenever we woke up and that was AWESOME! The kids would usually wake up before us and come climb in bed with us. Talk about memories!
- Don’t rush to the destination. Especially if you have young kids, long hours in the car can lead to fighting and make everyone cranky, which is exactly the opposite of what you want. Our destination was about 14 hours away and we choose to drive about 5 hours the first day, 4 hours the second day, stayed at our half way point for a couple days, and then 5 hours after that. It made the trip not feel as long in the car, plus we enjoyed different games and activities along the day.
In addition to a once a year getaway, we also decided to be intional about getting quality rest on a more regular basis.
Take the weekend – once a quarter
Every season, we plan to take a weekend off. We head up to the cabin or go camping. You could head to the beach or hike. Or even just get a weekend away with God. Things like women’s retreats are great for recharging. Ask your local church about weekend events that they put together.
Plan a day – once a month
One day a month take time to rest. Do something new, or something calming. See a movie, go ATVing, try a new restaurant, head to an amusement park nearby. These days, my husband and I plan to alternate between doing something with our family, something with friends, something with just each other, and something alone.
Take a break – once a week
Once a week, take an afternoon or an eneving to unplug from emails, calls and texts. Jump in the hot tub, walk in nature, take a painting class.
Don’t wait…I mean it. Go take a nap.
I had neglected my need to get away with my family. We desperately NEEDED to recharge and rediscover the joy of being together. We took ten days and just had fun with our little family.
The benefits of rest are worth the effort. In those ten days, we made unforgettable memories.
I watched my boys play in the ocean for hours, laughing and screaming as each wave came crashing over them.
My boys saw dolphins and sharks up close, rode their first rollercoaster, and tried food at one of the restaurants of their favorite celebrity chefs (Bobby Flay).
Rest and relaxtion doesn’t have to be expensive, but it cannot be ignored. Need some help getting ideas of how you can rest solo? Grab a free copy of my guide to pampering yourself. It gives 45 ways to rest for under $45 dollars.
After you download that guide, sit down with your husband and make a plan to get intentional rest once a year, once a quarter, once a month, and once a week. Trust me, it’ll be worth it!