Last week in “Setting Boundaries between Rest and Employment”, we took a look at a few of the employment-related obstacles which stand in the way of our setting aside a scheduled time for rest. We examined the difficulties encountered by those who live paycheck-to-paycheck and considered the reality that “taking a stand” for our “right” to time off isn’t always prudent or wise (at least not if we want to eat our next meal). And we discussed the importance of recognizing that God’s provision for us doesn’t always result in our having a great deal of control over our circumstances.
How we react when confronted with such obstacles can make a big difference in both our lives and the lives of others. Will we give up and simply accept that getting enough rest just isn’t possible? Will we become the cranky Christian no one wants to be around? Or will we find a way to navigate the obstacles, find the time to relax, and put ourselves in a position that will help us better demonstrate God’s love? Those of us who want to fulfill Christ’s commission in Matthew 28:19-20 chose the latter and learn the fine art of resting one moment at a time.
This can be a difficult skill to acquire. To begin with, we need to throw away the notion that real rest takes real time. If you’ve ever seen someone return to work looking worn out after spending an entire week just relaxing on the beach, then you know this isn’t true. What is true is that “a change is as good as a rest”. And if we are to become skilled at acquiring rest through moments rather than hours or days, that’s where we need to begin.
Think back over your day, paying special attention to “free moments” you may have had while walking to school, taking a break at the water cooler, or even performing some mundane chore like dusting the living room. “Free moments?” you ask. Indeed. While you were physically occupied during these tasks, it’s doubtful that your mind was very deeply engaged. And it’s from this “free time” that we can sculpt opportunities for rest. Consider the following tips for turning this time into a mini-vacation:
- Read or listen to a devotional. This activity often takes just a few minutes, but it has the power to draw you closer to God, reset your brain, and influence your outlook for an entire day.
- Block out the break room chatter. Few things are as toxic and non-restful as the gossip which goes on in company break rooms. Instead of increasing your tension by listening in, plug in a set of headphones and listen to something else: a great podcast, some energizing music, or soothing nature sounds.
- Step it up. Believe it or not, exercise often heightens our ability to rest. If you’re in a physical job, challenge yourself to step up the intensity… not so much that you hurt yourself, but enough to leave you with a feeling of pleasant soreness when you’ve finished. If your job isn’t physical, take advantage of your break time and take a stroll around the parking lot. The change of scenery will do you good!
- Take a cat-nap. Set an alarm, then take a snooze on your lunch break. Even fifteen minutes of extra sleep has the power to reenergize your day. If you’re afraid of missing the alarm, then just sit quietly with your eyes closed. Breathe deeply and enjoy some time on an imaginary beach somewhere with a frosty glass of lemonade.
- Work a puzzle. Instead of stuffing your face with a candy bar during your break, try working a puzzle instead. Crosswords, Sudoku, chess puzzlers, and other mind-benders take you out of the world around you while helping to sharpen your cognitive abilities.
- Explore new ideas. Grab a book or magazine and disappear into another world for a while. Like a vacation on a paper, the printed word can take us to places we’ve only dreamed of!
Next week, we’ll take a look at the difficulties that confront us as we try to set boundaries between rest and work that we enjoy. Meanwhile, feel free to share some of your own relaxation tips in the comment box below!