Do you find yourself growing increasingly snappy at your
volunteers? postponing phone calls? growing more and more impatient
with kids? sighing a lot?
Perhaps you're not getting enough rest. Experts at the
University of Pennsylvania claim that 40 percent of us are sleep
deprived. In fact, "Chronic fatigue and daytime sleepiness are now
so common that they are, for the most part, simply accepted as the
unavoidable price of demanding modern lifestyles," claims Lydia
Dotto, author of the book Losing Sleep.
Unfortunately the price of modern lifestyles is high.
Consequences range from slight irritability to impaired
concentration to depression-and an inability to do God's work.
So how can you get this much-needed rest in your life? Ecclesiastes 3:1 claims, "There is a time for
every event under heaven." Doesn't this include leisure?
Many of us have an allergy to rest-we avoid it like the plague.
"A great number of people think they're wasting time when they
rest," says Dr. Victoria Codispoti, who does psychiatric
evaluations for a sleep disorder clinic in Akron, Ohio.
Do you operate as if work is the only virtue? Do you take to
extremes the adage, "Idleness is the devil's workshop"? Are you
subscribing to the more-is-better philosophy? If so, it's time to
take a new look. Here are five ways to get started:
1. Reinterpret your concept of rest. Study the
Scriptures to get God's perspective on rest. Proverbs and Psalms
are especially ripe with the lessons of letting go and trusting
God. In Mark 6:31, Jesus told his disciples to go to a
"lonely place and rest awhile."
Rest is not laziness. It's regeneration. It's not a cop-out but
a biological need. "People don't realize that their bodies need
some period of rest every day," Codispoti says.
2. Discover your personal fatigue cues. For me,
symptoms similar to "coming down with the flu" trigger my awareness
that I need a break. Others get cranky or "ouchy." A friend of mine
loses the ability to attend to one task at a time. If your cues
signal fatigue, get some rest.
3. Take a lesson from Jesus. Did Jesus hurry?
Did he dash around getting things done? Did he zip across the
countryside in a flurry of accomplishments?
Of course not. Jesus stopped to be with people. He was never too
busy to listen, to recognize people's needs, or to engage in long
periods of prayer.
4. Be still. Can you really experience God when
you're rushing from appointment to appointment? Can you pray while
you're worrying about fitting everything into your schedule? Are
you able to dwell in God's presence when you're dead tired?
Scripture tells us to "be still" in order to know God. Even
Jesus needed quiet and solitude. Being still means stopping both
mentally and physically. It doesn't mean going off in a corner to
think about your problems. It involves spending quality time with
5. Create your own rest stops. Next time an
event is canceled, rather than using the extra time to do yardwork
or sort laundry, take time out for you. Bask in the beauty of a
glorious sunset. Watch your favorite sports team on television.
Maybe you'd rather listen to jazz, do a crossword puzzle, or read
by candlelight. Whatever it is, it needs to be something you don't
pressure yourself to do.
Or exercise mini-rest stops throughout the day by practicing the
advice given in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 to "rejoice always." A
positive attitude is a refreshment in itself. Take advantage of
free moments to pull off your burnout highway and thank God for the
singing birds or find three things you can thank him for today. As
you do these things, you'll find much-needed rest.
Judi Bailey is a licensed professional counselor in Ohio.
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