The Power of Rest

What if we valued intentional quiet time, sacred space, and silence? How would that change our lives? Despite our best intentions to live balanced lives, the modern world demands that we are almost always connected and productive, and this can drain us emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

We live in a culture that perpetuates the belief that when we have a lot going on and a lot of excitement, we’re really alive. Rest is not what most people think it is. People confuse rest with recreation, doing things like hiking, watching movies, gardening, reading, or even inebriation—getting high, stoned, tipsy, or drunk. Any of these activities can only be termed restful because they are breaks from work.

Every living organism needs rest. When we don’t take the time to rest, eventually it takes a toll on the body.

Learning the benefits of silence and bringing them into everyday life is an effective way to deeply rest the body, mind, and spirit. Many people flee that quiet space by quickly getting busy again. We’re often running from our thoughts and our feelings, afraid that if we stop we’ll discover that we’re not enough. But when we rest, a whole new world comes into view, we learn that we’re more than enough. We find our authentic self.

Surprisingly, most of us need to learn how to rest. Rest is regeneration. It is necessary for survival. During rest the body rebuilds, renews, rewires, and re-creates itself.

• Mental Rest involves focusing intelligently on your environment.

• Social Rest means using the power of social connectedness to relax.

• Spiritual Rest allows us to renew and revitalize our inner person.

• Physical Rest focuses on the body and provokes calm, relaxation, mental alertness, and better health.

Rest melts stress away, and research proves that it lower heart rates, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption, and alleviate hypertension, arthritis, insomnia, depression, infertility, cancer, and anxiety.

It is helpful to set a specific time for rest. You need to put boundaries around it so you can claim that time. This is especially important for women – we tend to give that time away more easily to others.

Taking a nap is a powerful way to rest and recharge. When you take a nap, you’re not just doing something for yourself, you’re making a statement to the world that there is something that is at least equally important and productive as working, and that is doing nothing.

Simple things can help us rest. Simple decisions like turning off the car radio, going for a walk in nature without earbuds, turning off the TV, designating a half hour, an hour, or even half a day for silence. Try taking a few conscious breaths, during which you focus on the inhale and exhale. You can also mindfully drink a cup of tea, read something inspirational, write in your journal, take a hot bath, or get a massage.

Rest and its sibling, relaxation, allow us to reconnect with the world in and around us, inviting ease in our lives and a felt-sense of belonging. Relationships can also become more harmonious and satisfying. How we are with ourselves affects how we are in our relationships. If you are in stress mode, just doing, doing, doing and checking things off the list, you are not going to be good with your significant other, your kids, your family and friends. You tend to have a shorter fuse. You don’t see the big picture. When you slow down, you gain a sense of perspective on what really matters.

If you are a writer or an artist, rest sharpens your creative abilities. When we are living hectic, frantic lives, there isn’t room for creativity.

If you want a more productive life, practice deliberate rest.

We can be more restorative, stimulate creativity and improve quality of life by practicing deliberate rest.

  1. Take rest seriously. Don’t treat rest as something to do when you’re finished. We’re never finished. We must take time for rest and defend it.
  2. Focus. Structure daily schedule around unbroken periods of unfocused work. Example: concentrate on your biggest tasks in the morning. Put off meetings until after lunch or only check emails during certain times in the day.
  3. Layer work and rest. Alternate periods of intensive work with periods of deliberate rest. Resting after focused work can give your subconscious mind time to discover solutions to problems that are eluding your conscience efforts.
  4. Get an early start. A regular morning routine pays off. Just remember to claim back some of the time later in the day.
  5. Detach from work. Pay attention to the quality of rest. Give yourself activities that will occupy your mind.
  6. Detach from devices. It’s not enough to leave the office, when your email can follow you. You can’t have deliberate rest without disconnecting from technology.
  7. Take a week off every three months if possible.
  8. Practice deep play. Hobbies or activities that are physically or cognitively engaging offer the same psychological rewards of jobs, but in different settings.
  9. Get plenty of exercise. Office work is demanding. The more movement you have in your life the better your brain can perform. Also, exercise helps you deal with stress.
  10. Get plenty of sleep. The simplest yet hardest thing to do in our busy lives. Don’t think of it as lost time. Sleep is a time of mental activity, giving our brains time to merge memories and skills and clear out toxins that are associated with dementia later in life.

The more we integrate periods of rest and silence into our daily lives, the bigger the payoff will be. There isn’t a perfect ratio between our rest and work schedule, much depends on our individual lives. During more tranquil periods, perhaps we don’t need to rest as much, but during periods of crisis, more rest and silence are called for. The important thing is to make it intentional, to make it a sacred time.

Cynthia Chirinda is a Communications Strategist, Organizational and Human Capital Development Consultant. As a Life Coach, Author, and publishing consultant, her published books speak to matters that position individuals and leaders to achieve their significant goals. Looking at improving your career, personal effectiveness, communication skills, relationships, focus, faith and happiness? Our therapy sessions and coaching strategies can help you and achieve your goals. E-mail: cynthia@cynthiac.net. Whatsapp: +971504607993. Website:www.cynthiac.net.