There was a time when I honestly thought rest was a luxury. It was something for people who didn’t work hard like me, who just didn’t have enough to do. Rest wasn’t crucial, it wasn’t planned for, I did not set aside time or energy or resources to simply take care of myself, rest, or restore. That was for lazy people — or maybe that’s just what I told myself because I couldn’t.
I couldn’t rest. I could not calm down, my whole life was 100mph and I didn’t have time for rest because I was just so busy. I love speeding ahead with things, but this was not healthy speed — this was panicked speed. My schedule was constantly full, I ran from thing to thing with little time to practice, so I would practice singing while I drove, I would review flashcards while I ate, I read textbooks in the 2 minutes I sat down before class. I slept, kind of, sometimes. My life had one setting: speed demon. (That was one of my nicknames, anyway.)
Fast forward a few years, and things changed. I discovered the reason I couldn’t rest: my body’s brake pedal was not working. My genetics were not fantastic for my adrenal or thyroid glands, and some stressful situations had triggered what was already waiting for me. Basically, my sympathetic nervous system was awesome. It was the first in the office every morning and the last to leave at night. Fight or flight? Yeah, I had that under control. The parasympathetic nervous system, however? That was an entirely different story. My adrenaline (and other stress response hormones) basically built up in my system, and my stress response was so awesome that my relax response system couldn’t handle it. At least, that’s the more positive way to say it. The less positive way to say it? I was 17, and my adrenal gland had given up on me. My go-go-go made me look pretty good on paper, but I was constantly stressed, my short-term memory was shot, and my work was not my very best.
Why am I telling you all this? To make sure you understand why I value rest. It’s easy to seem like I couldn’t. I still keep myself pretty busy, and I love to chase dreams sunup to sundown. The simple version is, I can’t afford to not value rest. If I want to get my body back to working well and keep it that way, sleep is essential. Naps are vital. Eating lots of fats is crucial. (I can honestly say the last of those three was the easiest.) Sleep is not for the weak, or lazy, or un-busy. Sleep is absolutely one of the most important things you can do to take care of your mind, body, and soul. Taking time to breathe, rest, daydream, and doodle will change your life.
Whatever your age or stage of life, you need to give yourself time to rest, recharge, and file all the information you take in during the day! Even if there’s not much you can do about sleep (mommas of littles, I hear you), try to take 10 minutes today to just sit in silence. Put in a pair of earplugs, and find somewhere comfortable to be. I prefer being outside, my sister has a favorite couch, my Mr. has a favorite chair in the kitchen — it’s all about where you feel at peace. Close your eyes or stare into space, and soak up some silence. Don’t pick up your phone, don’t have work right next to you just in case you get bored, and don’t spend that time to worry. Let your mind rest, and your brain and body will thank you.
How will you take time for rest today?