Seeking Rejuvenation, Energy, Serenity and Tranquility

Chill out, take a break, relax, rest, rejuvenate, meditate, breathe deeply, and become comfortably numb. Pick your own personal antidote to the chaos of the modern world or even just the busyness of day to day living: read, listen to music, play, surf the net, take a walk, engage in a hobby…no matter what circumstances life might send your way, you will benefit immensely from taking time each day to refresh yourself. This time of rejuvenation will not be the same for everyone because everyone doesn’t find the same things relaxing. Find your groove, settle in and take time to rest!

You owe it to everyone you love (including yourself) to find pockets of tranquility in your busy world. ~ Author unknown

When considering rest and sleep, researchers don’t always agree on how much of each is necessary, but they certainly agree that everyone needs them both for various reasons! The benefits of a good night’s sleep simply cannot be denied. Fatigue caused by sleep deprivation can be at the root of many emotional and physical ailments. This list from Harvard Woman’s Health Watch gives a concise summary of the many benefits of good sleep habits:

  1. Learning and memory: Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. In studies, people who’d slept after learning a task did better on tests later.
  2. Metabolism and weight: Chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.
  3. Safety: Sleep debt contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime. These lapses may cause falls and mistakes such as medical errors, air traffic mishaps, and road accidents.
  4. Mood: Sleep loss may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness. Too little sleep can also leave you too tired to do the things you like to do.
  5. Cardiovascular health: Serious sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat.
  6. Disease: Sleep deprivation alters immune function, including the activity of the body’s killer cells. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer.

Is there a difference between sleep and rest? Often rest and sleep are used interchangeably, yet sleep is more specifically defined and less often ignored. According to dictionary.com, rest has several meanings (to Include actual sleep):

1. The refreshing quiet or repose of sleep: a good night's rest.

2. Refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor: to allow an hour for rest.

3. Relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.

4. A period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility: to go away for a rest.

5. Mental or spiritual calm; tranquility.

Why are so many quick to neglect simple rest? Refreshing ease? Relief from anything that wearies, troubles or disturbs? Repose, tranquility? Certainly most would agree that these might be as appealing as good sleep habits. The issue, perhaps, in such a busy society is actually setting aside time for rest. While many plan for a certain number of hours of sleep each night (statistics give an average as 7.6 hours a night), specific times for rest are scheduled less often. However, some sleep researchers have found that even with good sleeping habits, neglecting rest has a negative impact.

When I was a young mother I followed some rules of the trade for the first few months: sleep while the baby sleeps was one of my favorites. This valuable advice certainly helps moms who are awake every couple of hours nursing and nurturing to feel better about resting during the daylight hours! As our family grew I began to use nap time to do chores or make necessary phone calls. It certainly did not take me long to realize that this was not a good plan. If you’ve read my series on homemaking, you will know that I am not the kind of homemaker that wants to sit and relax while the house falls apart around me, so I determined that my chores would be done continually and not require a large time investment. Talking on the phone is a necessary evil at times, but I determined that it was not a pleasant activity during the kids’ nap time. The bottom line was that I needed a time of energizing and neither chores nor phone calls would help me to be refreshed for the afternoon and evening. Simply put, I needed rest as much as the children did.

My need for rest was probably exacerbated by our circumstances at the time. We were working with some families that had a lot of serious personal struggles with some overwhelming issues. Watching the suffering that ensued squeezed my heart and made me feel totally helpless. Dealing with these things (particularly daily phone calls) was causing me to have migraines for the first time in my life. I did not want to sacrifice my own little family because the stress of helping others was too great for me. I searched for triggers and found some obvious answers. Still, one of the triggers was stress and one of the things causing stress needed to change. So, I took this time free from outside interruption for my own well being. I felt selfish at first, I felt demanding to set apart this time, I felt like I was compromising my feelings of service as opposed to selfishness. Quite honestly, I struggled with the rightness of my choice to mandate rest.

With the hope of a remedy, I imposed a two hour daily read and rest. I selected a time after lunch and used the same routine we used at bedtime: reading, snuggling and then a time of complete silence. For little ones this was an actual nap, for older children it was a time to read silently in bed after our read-aloud time. For me this was a time to rejuvenate, to refresh, to wind down and relax. During the time set aside for rest I was careful to choose things that I enjoyed and that left me refreshed and relaxed—things that were rejuvenating to me personally: reading, writing, computer activities, and sometimes sewing. How did I spare two hours while running a busy home, homeschooling young children who were not yet independent learners, and keeping my home in order? I made the time. I worked around those two hours. I looked at that time as a must.

Yet what I came to realize is that my mandated rest was a blessing in so many ways. While it was a time investment and required me to work harder at other times to get things completed, it provided a time of refreshing for me that made me more productive later. It seemed like a time thief, yet it increased my energy and efficiency! Much to the chagrin of my oldest children (whom this was imposed upon for much longer than the younger ones), I kept this two hour read and rest for about a decade! Slowly, puberty set in and naps and mandates were no longer a good fit with teenagers. Still, they were a good fit for me and I adapted by continuing to take time to read, write or watch something on my iPad to take a quite break during the day. While the older kids grew out of their read and rest, they still took daily time to do quiet things like reading or writing. We began a more self imposed time…we also started calling it ‘wind down’ time. In a family of eight, with room sharing and not nearly as much space as would be expected, taking time to wind down from the hustle and bustle is mandatory for most of us…with the possible exception of the extremely extroverted. While I no longer insist that everyone take a certain time to rest, the kids have naturally grown to appreciate a time of rest and have made it a habit of their own.

What if you just can’t get all your children to rest simultaneously? Obviously, a busy mother cannot neglect her family to rest. However, a busy mom can find a workable solution to allow a time for rest. While I am not a fan of using the television as a babysitter, I would rather see a young mom tune in to Animal Planet and snuggle with the kids for an hour a day for a rest than to see overwhelmed moms who can’t seem to take time to rest! No television? Try an audio book (this gives your voice a rest!). Each mom has different circumstances, but every mom would benefit from daily rest. This can improve your physical health, your emotional well being and most certainly – your attitude! Consider the wisdom of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Joy and Temperance and Repose – Slam the door on the doctor's nose…

If you have a difficult time relaxing or can’t find something that works well for you, you can start with some simple relaxation methods. Consider these ideas from Web MD:

  1. Meditate
  2. Picture Yourself Relaxed
  3. Breathe Deeply
  4. Look Around You
  5. Drink Hot Tea
  6. Show Some Love
  7. Try Self-Massage
  8. Take a Time Out
  9. Try a Musical Detour
  10. Take an Attitude Break

Read more on Web MD in the article: Blissing Out: 10 Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress on-the-Spot

A child of God will experience a peace beyond the refreshment gained from simple rest. Live a life that puts God first and He will give you rest for your soul! Make time for communing with God—read His word, study His word, meditate on His word.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Psalm 61:1 “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”

Psalm 62:1-2 “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

 

Category: Musings
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