Effective Rest

This week was hard for me to sit down and write. I felt unmotivated and lethargic. I’ve been worn out from the chaos of the past few weeks, unsure how to rest in the midst of unknowns following graduation and navigating my first few days of “post-grad". 

As I wrote last week, graduation has felt like a huge relief. But it also feels terrifying to be done with school; the one thing that I have done for the majority of my life. I am unsure what my future career will bring and I am terrified if I will succeed. 

But this week I attempted to rest. 

"Attempted” is a key word in that phrase because I wasn’t always successful. 

I love to be on the move and fully aware of what is coming next. Like many people, rest can be uncomfortable for me. 

Personally, I sometimes try to rest by laying on the couch and numbing my mind with social media or Netflix. And although I think those two things are great, they often leave me feeling more on edge once I unplug, rather than feeling more rested. 

You see, I often use these two things as ways to numb my mind or in an attempt to forget what I am actually feeling. 

But I’ve learned that this isn’t true rest. 

So often we go throughout our days trying to perform or achieve. Striving for attention from others and searching for others, our jobs, hobbies, and romantic relationships to give us meaning. This creates a cycle of perpetual worry of what others will think of us. 

This cycle of achievement and worry can often lead us to desire an escape from performing. For me it is to go home and flop on the couch, searching for something to numb my mind. Mindlessly scrolling through Instagram only to find that it actually perpetuates the cycle of comparison and performance even more.

But what would it look like to find rest in a way that creates a different cycle within us? A cycle of being mindful of our emotions, thoughts, and feelings. 

Anne Lamott says this beautiful line, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” 

I am learning the art of rest and unplugging in new ways in this season. As I am venturing into a season without school, I am learning that I often try to rest in ways that aren’t actually helpful.

As I wrote last week, a deep-rooted worry that I have is the fear of the unknown. What does life without school look like? 

Sitting in this fear is what can lead me to rest in ways that aren’t refilling. 

But when all of those things were turned off, my worries and fears still popped right back up. Reminding me that I couldn’t get rid of them with one more episode of Jane the Virgin or one more look on social media. 

So, I’ve started to think more about what it might look like to rest effectively. Addressing those fears and worries head-on.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful in learning how to effectively rest: 

  1. Writing or Journaling. To be honest, before I sit down, writing sounds like one more task I have to get done. But when I actually sit down and truly write out my feelings, I feel like I have a new perspective. I just sit and write. Completely word vomiting onto the page with no edits or worries that anyone will read it. 
  2. Meditation: I know that this might make me sound like a complete hippie. But I am a new supporter of meditation. Let me explain… I used to think it was something people with dread locks and a yoga mat would do. But as I have learned more about it, I have found it to be an effective way to have a fresh perspective on my thoughts. It allows me to filter through what I am thinking. (I love the apps Headspace and 10% Happier…both are great options and the free meditations are perfect)
  3. Unplugging from digital media and Reading: When I read, I feel like my mind is being used the way it was created. Reading something that engages my mind and causes me to critically look at the world around me reminds me that the world is much bigger than my own thoughts. It reawakens new ideas within me and causes me to be motivated to take on the unknown in creative ways. 
  4. Walking: This is one of the most effective ways for me to sort through my thoughts and spend time for myself. Maybe it’s running or biking for you, but for me I found that walking is an activity that allows me to think without worrying.
  5. Sippin’ tea with someone you love: The previous four were mostly solo ways for you to effectively rest. But I understand that for some (the extroverts out there) talking it out with someone is a way to revitalize and remind you of what is important. And even as an introvert, I can agree that talking to someone that I don’t have to impress really helps me sort through my thoughts. 

Perhaps you have felt more worried and stressed after “rest” rather than feeling renewed and refreshed. I would encourage you to take a critical look at the things you are doing to feel rested. Are they mindless tasks that cause your mind to go numb or cause you to compare yourself to others? 

Perhaps you aren’t truly resting at all. 

What would it look like for you this week to pick up a book that reawakens new ideas? Or go on a walk with a podcast you love? Or try writing your thoughts onto a page. Maybe even a meditation once a day would work for you. 

Each of these practical ways to rest has changed my outlook and view of what rest is. The good thing is that this is a thing that we are invited to practice. We might fail at times, feeling more worn out in the end. Or we might feel revitalized and renewed, ready to take on whatever life throws at us. 

Make sure to check back in next week to read more about what lifestyle change I am implementing as I am learning to rest in the unknown. 

God cares more about our presence than our performance. -Rebekah Lyons.

Elyssa Schultheiss