When I decided to write this blog, I was extremely exhausted. I was so tired that I couldn’t even rest comfortably. Every time I carved out some space in my day to rest, my mind was racing thinking about all of the things that I still had to do. I was checking things off of my “to do list”, but that’s all they were…checks. I didn’t really feel that I had accomplished anything. I know that I can’t be alone in feeling this way because the society that we live in is structured in such a way that we glean from being acknowledged or praised by the quantity of what we do and not so much in the quality that we put into our work.
This really started to bother me, I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t feel satisfied after accomplishing the tasks even though I was working on things that I loved to do. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so irritable and drained, why I couldn’t focus on one thing at a time, and why my mind was all over the place. As I started to reflect on the weeks prior to that moment, I had a wake-up call. I was not only tired, but I also was not balancing my time in a healthy and efficient way. I realized that there were people and relationships that I had neglected because I was spinning my wheels trying to multi-task to get everything done instead of properly managing my time and taking intentional rest time for myself. When I say intentional, I don’t mean that I was in the middle of doing tasks and got so tired that I had to make myself rest for a short time and then start doing the tasks again. I mean that I had not been intentional in taking time for myself to rest and do things to refresh my mind, body, and spirit.
It was during this time of reflection that I came across an article in The Huffington Post that caught my interest. The article caught my attention because as I started to read it, not only did I see myself doing some of the things that the article spoke of, but I also see many of my co-workers and friends doing the same.
The Huffington Post’s article “The American Workplace Is Broken, Here’d How We Start Fixing It” By Carolyn Gresgoire highlights a few concerning facts about how American society views work-life balance and the determining factors of who we gauge how successful we are at work. Some of the statements in the article that stood out to me were things that most of us already know, but tend to overlook because our desire to be successful outweighs our desire to live a healthy and more spiritually fulfilled lifestyle.
Less boundaries are being upheld between work life and personal life because of technology.
How often do we have the intention of spending time with family or friends or just some quiet time alone, but also have our cell phones glued to us in anticipation of a call, text or email to come through from our jobs or some other form of work. What is often overlooked is the fact that, you can’t be focused on two things at once even though our phones, tablets, televisions, etc. gives us the false perception that we can.
I am learning and have started the practice of being very intentional about setting boundaries with my time. Whether it’s for a few hours or a day, it is very important that we carve out uninterrupted time for ourselves and the people that we love on a regular basis in order to maintain healthy relationships. It’s so easy to get caught up in technology and not realize how much time you spend checking emails, texts and answering calls, that we end up giving the time that we should be spending with our loved ones away.
50% of American workers say that work related stress interferes with their sleep and they’re also taking their work on vacation with them.
Again, setting boundaries is key here, let’s start with sleep. Our bodies need sleep, there’s really no need to explain this because this is something that we all know. When our children are young, we make them take naps throughout the day and are very diligent in following a schedule for bedtime. Why, because we as adults know the importance of sleep for our children for their physical and mental development (not to mention the quiet time that we get to look forward to when their sleeping). All jokes aside, if children need sleep and they are far more energetic than adults, why do we feel that we are so beyond getting the proper amount of sleep? It is extremely important that we make the time to get a sufficient amount of sleep so that we give our minds and bodies the rest needed to properly function each day. With so much business in our lives, time will not permit itself for the sleep that we need, but we have to set boundaries and make the time for the sleep that our bodies require.
Moving on to vacations, never in a million years would I think that people did not want to take full advantage of a vacation! I have to admit that I have been guilty of this too, however, the point of a vacation is to rest and refresh and not work! If you’re constantly working you will become burned out at some point and won’t be at your best when you return to work. What’s the point of even taking a vacation and using time that is specifically designated for your rest if you’re only going to end up working? You may as well not even use the days off and just show up at the office. Your vacation time should be time set aside to spend with whomever you’re going on vacation with at 100% and no less.
The anxiety levels of an average high-schooler in 2016 were as high as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s.
By constantly working and being on social media and not nurturing their relationships, we are modeling to our children that this is acceptable and in doing so, we can unintentionally adversely affect our children’s mental health. Of course, this exemplifies the most extreme case, but it is concerning because the potential is there.
How many times have you not heard your child ask you a question or say something to you because you were too pre-occupied on your phone or some type of device? This can also happen with other types of distractions, but I think that with the multitude of distractions that our devices now offer we can lose sight of the amount of time that we spend on them as opposed to spending much needed time with our children, especially when it comes to work because our primary reason for working is to provide for our family. Therefore, we may not perceive the time that we spend working as taking away from our families, but more often as something that is necessary and acceptable.
Lack of proper sleep, healthy relationships, and healthy physical and social habits can be a catalyst for the potential stress induced behaviors for our children. If they see us on our phones working constantly and letting our success and worth only be measured by how much we work, they are going to model our behavior.
So, where am I getting at with all of this? Our bodies and minds were not created to function without rest. We were created to have balance. If God took a day to rest, why do we feel that we can function at an optimal level without rest? We cannot perform in the way that God has purposed us to without sufficient R.E.S.T. in Him and R.E.S.T. in the physical sense. It is imperative that we R.E.S.T. in order to have the life and fulfill the purpose that God has intended for us.
First, we must R.E.S.T. in God by:
Reflecting on God’s goodness
Establishing a closer relationship with God
Seeking God daily
Thanking God for His love, grace and mercy
When we rest in God, we are exercising our faith in Him. We are recognizing that when we rest in Him, He will renew us mentally and spiritually.
R.E.S.T. physically by:
Refreshing (making sure that you are getting enough rest daily)
Exercising (commit to at least one physical activity each week)
Spending time with family and friends
Taking time out for your-self (carve out some time for yourself each week to do something that you enjoy)
We also need to R.E.S.T. our bodies physically. In order to have the energy and stamina that we need so that we can work at our maximum potential, our bodies must be at a healthy state.
Start journaling about how God has blessed you at work and how God has used you to be a blessing to others each day at work. Reflect on your journal entries at the end of the week and compare how much progress you made during the day when you had faith and rested in God to guide you through the day, or when you did everything on your own without God’s guidance.
Start a calendar showing how much sleep, exercise and time you spent with family/friends each week by setting boundaries for your time and compare it to the number of hours you worked for the week. You may be surprised!
Reflect on how you can create boundaries to ensure that you are getting enough R.E.S.T. spiritually and physically.
Psalm 127:2 (NASB) – It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.