MOST PEOPLE, when they think about rest, think about lounging around, not doing anything. Molly Shea writes about seven types of rest you need to feel fully recharged.
Her article is based on a book by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith titled Sacred Rest. We need physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual and sensory rest. Let’s look briefly at some of these. Think of how Jesus’s call to the disciples to get away addresses rest.
■ Physical rest
You know if you’re physically exhausted. You struggle to keep your eyes open. You’re too tired to cook dinner and too tired to go out and get something. You fall sleep on the sofa. The most common form of physical rest is sleep. Yet, most of us are sleep deprived. Including our children. School-age children should get between nine and 11 hours. Teenagers need eight to 10 hours.
A person who gets six or fewer hours of sleep a night can be as impaired as a person who has consumed up to three beers. Sleep experts have found that daytime naps can increase alertness, boost creativity, reduce stress, and improve perception. But for some reason, we see people who nap as lazy and unproductive.
■ Mental rest
Ever felt like your brain’s turned to mush? You’ve been staring at the same page of a book for 10 minutes, or just sent a barely comprehensible email. Perhaps you notice your thoughts starting to turn negative.
Ministry is not a very physical career. But it is very mentally taxing. I know when I can’t go anymore. I can’t remember people’s names. I can’t focus on putting the bulletin together. Emails pile up unanswered. I have to take time to ground myself. Get away. Clear my mind. I enjoy yard work. One reason is that it’s mostly mindless work. I can mentally rest.
We all need a quiet place.
■ Social rest
Socializing can be exhausting. I’m an introvert. Sometimes we think that means a person is shy. What it really means is that being with people, around people, is draining. I need time to be alone. Or to hang out with a friend who doesn’t expect anything from me. Being on a boat on the lake can be restful.
■ Emotional rest
Think of how you feel after a funeral or breakup or watching talking heads on TV — hungry, exhausted, and confused all at once. Get some emotional rest by talking with a willing listener, then keep talking to prevent future emotional overload. It might mean finding people with whom you can be 100% yourself. I meet every six weeks or so with a counselor for this purpose.
■ Spiritual rest
One of the Commandments is to remember the Sabbath through rest. The key thing about Sabbath rest, I think — it invites a chance to step back and stand apart from all the things that usually drive and consume us. We can focus on God’s presence and blessing. We can experience contentment, and give thanks.
Jesus calls us to come to him for rest. He removes the yoke of weariness, the burdensome yoke that weighs us down.
■ Sensory rest
Sensory exhaustion is one of the most prevalent drainers thanks to the prevalence of screens. Smart phones, TVs, computers at work, DVD players in the SUV, video games. Even the radio or Pandora. Constant sights and sounds make us tired. Put aside the technology. Ask if staring at a screen is really the rest you need?
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YOU WERE GIVEN a piece of paper when you got here. Write down one of these types of rest that you need: physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual or sensory. Then write one thing you will not do this week in order to get that type of rest: one evening you will not turn on the TV, or you will turn off your cell phone, one something one obligation or opportunity on your calendar you will cancel.
One more thing before you put your pencils away. Write down one thing you will actually do in order to rest: take a walk with a friend or spouse, play a game with a child, take an afternoon nap. Spend time in thanksgiving.
Take this with you this week. Email me what you discover, what you find, where it is difficult to follow through, and when it’s rewarding.
As Jesus’s compassionate invitation to rest fell on the first disciples, may you go away to a quiet place and rest.