Sometimes I look at strangers’ faces,and try to guess what is going on in their worlds. Often times, the faces I look at seem to tell untold stories of grief and pain, quiet desperation and aching loneliness. Other times the faces narrate unbridled joy and felicity. But a common story I read on the faces on the street is that of unrest. It is the tale of tiredness… and it ain’t fiction.

As I sit in my office and look out over the CBD of Perth, I see men and women on assignment, engaged in ‘productive activity’… Much of what they are doing is very important and ‘needs to be done yesterday’. There is stuff to do and its got to be done. I don’t want to discount the fact that things need to get done or denigrate the legitimacy of hard work and focused mission, but… do you know how to rest?

Learning to rest doesn’t necessarily mean ceasing from activity. In fact evidence suggests that some of the most rest inducing activities you can do involve a heck of a lot of activity. But as someone who has experienced the crippling and even humiliating effect of burnout, I want to say that I believe that learning how to rest is crucial. It is an art form, a skill, an enviable trait of expertise… a weapon that you can learn to wield on the battlefield of a world gone mad with frenzied movement and dare I say it, wasted energy.

Let’s look at a couple of keys that I believe may help you to learn the ‘art of rest‘.

  1. One man’s rest may be another man’s marathon. We are all unique. What works for someone else may not work for you. Learn about ‘you’ and learn what it takes to bring rest to you.
  2. Practice the basics- learn to breathe well, get enough sleep…
  3. Learn about and put into practice boundaries in your life. Grow your ‘NO’ muscle. This happens like weight training- through repetition.
  4. Exercise control over your use of social media
  5. Explore and discover your gifting’s and talents, and aim at working in area that deploys them. It is exhausting doing what you’re not cut out for.
  6. Set aside time to intentionally ‘be still’ in your mind
  7. Practice regular, aerobic ‘heart pumping’ exercise
  8. Take regular holidays
  9. Lower your caffeine and sugar and ‘rubbish carbs’
  10. Proactively connect with others in healthy ways
  11. Reject the myth that quantity of activity = quality of output.

If you can learn how to rest, first in your heart and mind and secondly in your actions, life becomes sweeter. We actually become more creative and more productive,when we live from a place of rest. Every time I go away on holidays and truly relax I creatively write and seem to find answers to problems and… I find greater capacity to authentically love people again.

Rest must be the foundation that we live from, the house that we live in and the walk that we establish in our lives, if we are going to be creative, productive and compassionate. Be diligent in learning how to rest… work at it ????

Nick Gwynn

Breathe Counselling