Go, go, go—that’s the mantra of our lives in this busy culture. We race from high school to college to career to motherhood, sometimes doing several simultaneously! We balance church, homework and jobs; kids, cleaning and cooking. Our lives are full and our schedules fuller. Who has time to rest?!
Rest appears unproductive, but it’s one of the healthiest choices we can make in any stage of life. Perhaps that’s why God set an example of it in His creation of the world (Genesis 1-2)! Making time to intentionally rest from your busy life actually makes you more efficient and productive for the long run. There are many health benefits to taking a break from the busyness—lowered stress, better eating habits and more sleep among them. Even so, we struggle to make time for rest.
Need an excuse to take a nap? Here are four ideas for making rest a priority.
1. Schedule it in.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle to rest because of all the things I could be accomplishing with that time. One day I realized rest was important enough to be part of my to-do list! I started writing it in my planner, making time for it when I would need it most. Scheduling rest throughout my week—whether that meant actually taking a nap, going to bed earlier or just reading a book—made it feel more like an accomplishment. And it is! Rest rejuvenates us for our responsibilities, allowing us to give our best to the people and duties of each day.
2. Pair it up.
If resting still sounds boring (especially for the achiever personalities), try pairing your restful time with something you enjoy. Have a favorite book or TV show you want to spend time on, but feel like you never have a spare minute? Schedule an hour every few days to read or watch. Or pair your rest with listening to music or an audiobook.
This strategy works well even outside of resting. Anytime you have an unsavory task, try pairing it with something you enjoy. You will be more likely to make that task a habit, or at least get it done!
3. Let go of the guilt.
Guilt is one of the biggest deterrents to a restful lifestyle. We feel guilty for not accomplishing things in that time. We feel bad for taking time for ourselves in the midst of the busyness.
Don’t let guilt ambush you. Remember, God Himself rested from the work He did. God designed rest, actually mandating a whole day of the week for it! The original intent of the Sabbath wasn’t just to have fellowship with other people of God, but to take time for remembrance and rejuvenation. God’s design allows us to give our best to Him and to the calling He has on our lives.
4. Cultivate a restful spirit.
Rest isn’t just a physical action; it’s an attitude of the heart. In order to truly know the Lord, we must be still before Him, learning to enjoy His presence and listen for His wisdom. This requires us to cultivate an attitude of inward rest.
This kind of rest is intensely practical. It puts us in a posture to hear God’s will, which increases our effectiveness in our daily lives. We may feel as if we are doing “nothing,” but we are in fact doing something—something productive for ourselves and for the kingdom of God every time we choose to rest.
Think today about the pace of your life: Do you need to make time to intentionally rest? Then make space in your schedule to do so, and reap the rewards of the discipline of being still.