Last week, I wrote about the need to work, work, work. This week, I’m talking about the other end of the spectrum: the need to rest.
According to The Importance of Rest for Runners at Active.com, one of the biggest mistakes new runners make is not taking enough down time to rest and recover. (I’m sure you could replace “new runners” with any new exercise, not just running.) With proper training, our bodies can do amazing things like lifting heavy weights or running marathons. But every proper training plan will include days of rest. The article says that elite runners who run for a living know the importance of rest days. They usually take one week off after a 5K, and up to two weeks off after completing a marathon. It’s generally recommended to take a day off after weightlifting with a certain muscle group. You can take a complete day off between workouts, or work different muscle groups on different days.
Why is it important to take rest days? Because our bodies need time to recover. You can read the article mentioned in the paragraph above to get more specific details, but our muscles, tissues and even immune system can get damaged during exercise. Rest helps them recover, and even get stronger.
Most of you probably know this, so I’m probably preaching to the choir a bit here. I suspect none of you are out their sweating your stuff every day of the week. I am
wondering if any of us truly get sufficient rest, though. I don’t just mean physical rest or sleep. I wonder if we ever slow down enough to rest our minds and our souls? You see, here at The Journey, we care about your physical, emotional and spiritual health. They are all interrelated, so when one area is unhealthy, the other areas suffer, too.
Our culture moves at an extremely fast pace! Even when we’re not busy with an event or activity, there is always something to do. I’ve got two baskets of laundry to fold and a few more loads that need to be washed. I should think about what’s for supper tonight. My kids are on Spring Break this week, so I’ll be referring some arguments at any moment. There is always something. Even when I’m trying to relax, my mind has a hard time shutting off, as I’m thinking of all the things I should be doing instead of relaxing.
If you are of the Christian faith, God actually commands we take a day of rest, a Sabbath. In Exodus 16:29 it says God gives the Sabbath, implying it is a gift for us to take some time off to rest. I’ve read a few of the books from the Little House on the Prairie series to my kids. Pa tells the story of his father having to sit completely still on Sundays. I don’t think any of us need to do that, but I do think taking time to put work aside and put our feet up for a few hours.
I bookmarked a blog post titled The Difference Between Relaxation and Refreshment a few years back. It made an impression, as it talked about the need to relax but also to get some refreshment. What’s the difference? Relaxing gives our body rest, or maybe lets our brain zone out for a while. Refreshment fills us up and rejuvenates us so we have the energy to face the next busy day.
I’ve been trying harder in recent months to pay attention to my own rest and refreshment. I can’t say I’m consistent with these things, but I am seeing the benefit of implementing them.
- Going to bed at a decent hour. I am a night owl by nature, but getting enough sleep is essential.
- I’m learning to say “No.” I truly enjoy volunteering and helping people out. It’s really hard to say “no” sometimes, but I can’t do it all, and neither can you. By saying “no” to some things, I can devote more time to the things I say “yes” to. I’m not as stressed out trying to juggle everything, and my family doesn’t feel like they get my leftovers.
- I try to unplug for 24 hours once a week. I attempt to avoid blogs, Facebook, Twitter and the internet in general for a period of time. It’s amazing how much noise that creates in our minds! Sometimes it feels like I’m missing something, but usually it’s very refreshing! I try to unplug on Saturday evening and plug back in on Sunday evening. That time period works well for me. I tried just taking Sunday off before, but then there is a huge backlog to catch up on Monday morning, and I don’t like starting off the week feeling behind.
- I try to make time to do things I enjoy like reading books and photography. Once the weather warms up, I’ll spend more time outside puttering around in our yard. Since I don’t get online for 24 hours, I try to focus on incorporating these activities into that time frame. It’s been good.
That’s what works for me. You probably have other interests or activities that you like. Jessica likes boxing! Maybe you like to sew or build or write. What are some things you can do to add some rest and refreshment into your life?