The Art of Rest

I can’t relax!!! My mind is racing, I’m restless, anxious and agitated. I’ve got a million things to do… and I cant seem to find any peace. I just want to rest.

Sound familiar?

The acquisition of rest and peace is the universal desire of every human being on the planet. People all over the world are looking for it, and many never find it. The pace of things seems to be ever increasing, technology is advancing rapidly, people are more frantic and stressed than ever before. In efforts to be more productive and efficient, it would seem that for many people, there is just too much to do, and too few hours to do it.

If you are in this category, and/ or you are just plain stressed out. I want to give you some hints. Not a list of do’s and don’ts, but some suggestions that may just get you moving in the right direction. Here goes:

  • Ask yourself why you are working so hard. If it’s not sustainable, helping you achieve your goals, good for your relationships or your health, you may need to seriously question your motives.
  • Get a health check- up. Go and see your GP and just get a ‘once over’. It can put your mind at rest, and it’s basically just good self-management.
  • Are you doing regular exercise, eating ok and sleeping enough? Real basic, but it’s real important.
  • How is your schedule? Are you over committed? There is a skill in being able to say NO. Are you able to set limits on yourself and others demands on your time, energy and talent? If you struggle with saying NO (because you feel guilty or selfish or mean etc.) talk to a counsellor.
  • Are you doing something that you love, at least some of the time? Whether it’s surfing, stamp collecting, gardening or hanging out with your mates, are you doing this?
  • Are you taking at least a day a week off, where you stop, re-group, re-create and refresh yourself?
  • When was the last time you took a holiday? Most of us get at least 4 weeks annual leave. Make sure you take it… and use it well.
  • How are your relationships? Relational stress is a major contributor to burnout and exhaustion. You may need to make some adjustments, take some time, make an apology or establish some boundaries in this area. Healthy relationships can = healthy mental health. If you are living with or working with difficult people, practice being ‘non-reactive’. Practice the art of not letting others’ behavior, control yours.
  • How is your relationship with yourself? Are you being congruent and genuine with yourself? Are you living from your core values, or are you hiding yourself?
  • Do you use a calendar? Most people have mobile phones these days. Most phones have great calendar apps. You can write stuff down in your calendar, set a reminder alert… and forget about it. This gives you one less thing to think about.
  • Do you have someone that you can ‘open up’ to? Do you have someone in your life that you can be emotionally honest with? Don’t make excuses, seek it out. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a counsellor, but being able to honestly share your struggles with somebody is a major relief.
  • Consider spending a little time each day intentionally being still. Whether you are praying or practicing ‘mindfulness’ or simply sitting in your favourite chair, intentionally slowing yourself down- this is helpful

Learning the Art of Rest is core to wellbeing and healthy functioning. Just like playing tennis or learning another language, It is a skill you can practice and get good at. It’s worth it.

Enjoy, Nick