rest: why you get more done when you work less

I am caught up in doing things differently. Not just to be different but to live differently. We live in a cozy apartment when so many others our age own big, beautiful homes. We serve together at church rather than serving where one particular person’s strengths or interests lie. And the biggest thing I’m stepping into is more rest.

Not just the weekly Sabbath that we most often refer to – an Old Testament law that we are no longer under – but a daily, ongoing rest in my soul.

This means changing the way I do things and get things done.

Changing the things I say yes to and make room for.

And especially giving myself permission to find rest in the things that glorify God and actually leave me refreshed afterwards.

I am by no means an expert at rest, but in my novice I’m questioning my life and the lives of those around me.

Questions like:

Why is back to school so stressful?

Why do high schools have parent teacher conferences the way they do?

Why do we squeeze every possible activity into May at the end of the school year?

Why do we plan big events to encourage people to have an encounter with Jesus but create no space for them to sit quietly or connect in small groups where they can be held accountable and get open about what’s happening in their spirit?

Why are we afraid to discipline our children? Or tell them no?

Why do we parade our busy like it’s a prize rather than the prison it actually is?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions and stumbled upon a library book about rest and got myself totally convicted.

Here’s a quick synopsis and the outline of the book.

In a nutshell, the author shares about the problem of rest and the science of rest. Why we’ve changed the way we rest (and how we’ve inhabited so many other issues as a result of our busy) and what it really can look like to be restored when we do it well.

STIMULATING CREATIVITY

In order to stimulate creativity – which all of us have in us, no matter what we do for work or in our careers, because we were made by our Creator and are made in His image – we have to make it a priority, a discipline even.

four hours

The block of time that we can be most productive and creative in. Anything more and we’re no longer operating at our highest level for developing new work or our best work even.

morning routine

There are many who would say that they are not “morning people” but for those who are or are willing to try, setting aside a routine early in the morning – with limited distractions – creates a more ideal environment for success in creative problem solving, development and getting unstuck.

walk

Some of the most creative politicians, professors, musicians, artists, authors and Nobel Peace Prize Winners took long walks after working hard for four hours and/or prioritizing their morning routine. It often brought them to even more creativity and re-energized them to return to work later in the day or with more clarity for the next day. Communing with nature while walking their dog or taking a long a notebook to journal was incredibly helpful to their rest and refreshing.

nap

Can I get an “Amen!”?

I know this is so difficult for us to conceptualize the way in the pace of our world today – at least here in America and especially in larger cities. And I can’t even consider how this would look to work into my every day life, but I am definitely jumping on the band wagon of giving myself permission to rest and allow myself take a nap in the middle of the day, during the work week – if that is what my body calls for.

We have book clubs, wine clubs, I’m petitioning for a “nap club”. Join me!

stop

This section was fascinating because it wasn’t about stopping everything but stopping at a certain time in the creative process. Instead of stopping when the paragraph, book or piece is done, the author suggests stopping mid-sentence, mid-chapter or mid-stanza and leaving room for your brain to rest and recover before picking up again the next day.

sleep

Get it y’all.

Turn the screens off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Charge your phone away from your bed, your computer should not make its way into your space for recharging. Let your brain prepare for the work of rest.

I’ve added an eye mask and ear plugs to my sleep regimen along with essential oils that I rub on my feet before winding down or diffuse bedside.

SUSTAINING CREATIVITY

It’s not enough to make room for the creativity to come, it’s important to our rest to be healthy in order to sustain the creativity for long periods of time. It was powerful to read about the people in the book that went on to write dozens of books, paint and have successful second or third careers steeped in creativity.

I’ve been suppressing my creativity for a long time so I was encouraged to read about it not really being too late for me to begin and giving me a road map for how.

recovery

This resonated with me.

The idea that we take vacations one or two times per year for a week or two at a time but don’t really get away fully is a part of why there is need for recovery. You’ve had that right, where you take a vacation but it takes two or three days to settle into the new experience. And sometimes while on vacation, we still make ourselves available to our offices, teams and work in a way that does not really allow us to completely unplug and recover.

In this part of the book I got convicted that making a regular habit of rest – even when doing regular, everyday living – is necessary to being well rested.

exercises

Meh.

When I work out the pain in my back, I’ll resume yoga. And maybe even spend some time on a treadmill, working up a little bit of a sweat.

I’m not an expert in this area, I’m not even experienced in regularly working out, but I’m committed to making time for it as a part of living a more restful life.

deep play

This was probably my favorite chapter when I realized what this was for me.

It’s not something you do for work or are required to do, but rather something that stretches you, pushes you to learn but is also fun. For me, this is developing my platform on Instagram. It involves taking a class to learn the art and science behind the app. I am learning about how to influence and encourage others through visuals, conversation and words. It’s also an opportunity for me to see and share the beauty I see and experience all around me.

It leaves me feeling invigorated and thinking about what I can do or try next.

As a part of the platform, it forces me to try new things and to explore the world of photography by dabbling; essentially deep play.

sabbaticals

Most commonly referred to in connection with professors, this was the first time I’d read about CEOs and politicians, even restaurant owners walking away from their highly demanding roles for six months to a year. Different things – stress, overwhelm, need for new perspective – drove them to take the time, but the reward was more stamina, re-connection with their families, more creativity and focus than before they took the time away.

Even taking a week off two to three times a year was effective in helping leaders with a lot of impact and responsibility to be able to continue in their roles for a long time while serving well.

Let me just say, that I think moms and dads and single people and everyone breathing should make time for those a couple of times a year. I wrote about the one my hubby and I took recently over here.

THE RESTFUL LIFE

What even is that?

Before you scoff at it, take a moment and dream it. Try to look beyond what’s holding you back or the things you think may make seem it impossible and try to envision improvement in any two or three above areas.

I won’t be overhauling every single one of these categories next month or even in the next six months but I can focus in on a few; morning routine, walk and deep play. Out of implementing these three things areas of rest, I am hoping to write more pointedly and find something concrete that I can offer to the women recovering from death and divorce, fighting to find hope again.

That’s what it means to me.

A restful life is me having enough margin to be still, able to show up and be there for my people and to create beautiful, encouraging content that makes a difference.

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