I know, I know, this is a series about productivity, organization, staying focused, and getting your life back in order. But here’s the thing: in order to truly get your crap together, you need to be making the most of all your time, which includes the time you spend relaxing. Have you ever had a day where you get to the end of it and feel like you wasted the entire thing? I’ve so been there. I go the whole day not really being productive and getting anything done, and before you know it it’s bedtime and it feels like a waste. The worst part about this is that I don’t feel any more relaxed or rejuvenated—in some ways, I feel even worse than I did before! No thank you.
The point of relaxation and “days off” are to get you refilled and ready to tackle the following day. They provide balance in your life, and they are so so important. So why is it that our common modes of relaxation don’t seem to actually be relaxing anymore? I can sit for hours, literally, scrolling mindlessly through Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter… and yet at the end of it, I just feel like I’ve wasted 2 hours I’ll never get back, and I still feel as restless and tense as I did beforehand. I can hit the “I’m still watching” button on Netflix enough times that I know they’re judging me, and even though I’m in my pajamas I can still end up feeling just as sluggish and drained as I felt the day before.
Something I’ve really been working on this year is learning how to relax efficiently. If you can relate to any of my notes above, here a few tips and tricks that I’ve been working on implementing lately!
- Realize the importance. From the beginning of time, God demonstrated to us that rest is necessary, and while taking a Sabbath day each week seems like a great commandment, we have such a hard time actually doing it. I know that some people really struggle with being a workaholic and working all the time, but it’s not just that. Work isn’t the only thing that gets in the way of our rest—it’s also worry, stress, and busyness. These things get in the way and even when we can find time to rest, we end up feeling unable to relax either physically or mentally. But here’s the thing—if you don’t find the time to rest, you will never be able to work hard on the other days. You might be able to keep running for a while, but eventually you’ll hit your wall and crash. And trust me, it won’t be pretty. I experienced this so many times in college, but never really learned my lesson. Plus, from a spiritual standpoint, it’s so important to realize that your life is not actually in your control—God is taking care of you, and taking one day completely free of work and putting it in His hands is a good exercise in trust.
- Figure out what works. Now, I love Pinterest. Really. But the truth of the matter is, spending a whole day on social media just isn’t going to cut it when I’m going to try to relax. Try to figure out what things you can do that help your spirit actually rest. Personally, I like to craft, spend time with my husband or friends, go hiking or to a park, go for a walk through town, have a movie night, decorate in my apartment, read a good book, or maybe cook or bake. There are times, oddly enough, where I even like to organize or clean. The point is, determine something to do that will help you unwind and just be for a little while. Something that, even if it wears you out, it’s a good kind of exhaustion where you feel happy and calm at the end of the day. Make plans with friends or plan to stay home all day with a good meal in the crock pot. Just don’t waste the time you have.
- Choose a day. Until this summer, I never really had a day. I would try and relax whenever I got the chance, but it usually was a few hours here and there when I could squeeze it in, instead of a scheduled time to look forward to. In spring of this year, Tyler and I both started new jobs. Until that time, we had both been working unpredictable hours and days, and never really knew when our time off would be or if it would coincide. So when the opportunity presented itself to have a set schedule, I seized it! Now, as a general rule, we have Sunday and Monday off together. We try so very hard to keep Mondays free of plans. Monday is our day to rest, relax, and spend time together before we move on with our very different schedules. The great thing about having a Sabbath day planned is that you have all of the rest of the week to get your stuff done. For instance, I know that if I don’t want to clean on Monday, I should work through the house on Sunday afternoon. And if I don’t want to worry about what’s for dinner, I should do all of my shopping previously so that whatever we eat can just be popped into the oven or crock pot. Plans with friends and family are almost always made for Sunday or another day of the week—and it really works well for us anyway, because most people are busy on Mondays! There are some exceptions but we try really hard to keep this day free. Now, I do realize that this is close to impossible for some families, depending where you’re at in life, but wherever you are, it’s a season. So, for the next season, schedule yourself some rest.
The truth of the matter is that if you don’t plan time to just relax, you will seriously lose productivity. Having a rest day planned helps keep me motivated throughout the rest of the week, because I know it’s only a few more days until I can rejuvenate. Have you found a great way to rest and relax? Please, inquiring minds want to know. Let’s support each other in something that seems like it should be easy but can actually be quite difficult, especially in a culture that promotes busyness. If your friend needs to cancel plans because she is just burnt out, have some grace. Offer to babysit for someone who needs a break. And seriously, learn how to take a breath and relax. Take some time to let your soul rest.