How Can We Get Better at Resting?

If you had asked me what I did for breaks about six or seven years ago, I likely would have mentioned using my smartphone or tablet to check social media or to read articles. I even used phrases like, “I’m taking a break on social media” for many years.

That is, I wasn’t taking a break from social media on those occasions. I was taking a break from working on my computer and switching to social media for all of my break.

I swapped one screen for another. Then, fear, anger, anxiety, or despair rushed through my mind as I scrolled down further and further or clicked through one article and then another.

What did I want during these social media “breaks”? I have no clue.

If I was looking for a bit of relaxation, peace, or rest, I wasn’t finding it through the apps on my phone. I suspect that it was so hard to stop swiping and scrolling because I hadn’t found whatever I was craving.

Words like restoration and renewal come pretty close to what I’m after when I take a break. I want to feel better and to have enough stamina to finish what I’m doing that day, whether that’s working on a writing project or caring for my kids.

Does scrolling through news stories or social media posts bring renewal?

I may leave some of that scrolling with more information, but there’s a good chance I’m going to feel worse. Even if I break even with a little more information and no additional sadness, I rarely feel “better.”

Using my phone isn’t a break. Reading the news isn’t a break. Those things are fine by themselves. We should seek to be informed about the world, educated about the challenges of our times, and connected with people who are important to us.

Connection on social media is not a bad thing at all. However, that digital form of connection is rarely restful or restorative.

There is a major difference between the quality of the rest I have while working on an art or woodworking project and the “rest” of scrolling through social media or news stories that often leave me emotional and distracted.

Benefitting from the Most Basic Creative Act

It’s not going too far to say that scribbling on some paper for fifteen minutes, balling it up, and throwing it in a trash can is more restful than spending fifteen minutes scrolling through social media.

Follow along with the absurdity of this for a moment.

If you’re going to scribble on a piece of paper, you need to figure out a few things that could make it somewhat interesting:

  • What kind of paper will you scribble on?
  • What will you scribble with? Pen? Pencil? Marker?
  • Will you scribble on only one piece of paper or several?
  • How will you dispose of your scribbled paper? Will you ball it up rapidly or fold it into a particular design?
  • Will you walk across the room to the trash can and drop it in, or will you take a basketball-style shot from far away?

That list of options is absurd, but it shows how many possibilities emerge when you commit yourself to even the most basic creative act with pencil and paper.

Imagine how much better your break could be if you tried a creative project that you really love?

We Need to Be Told to Rest

It’s telling that God had to command his people to rest as one of the Ten Commandments. Whatever you think of the Old Testament laws, the command for Sabbath rest is a win for humanity.

If God knows us best as the Creator of the world, then God’s command for rest at least one day per week strikes me as worth noting. God knew we’d be bad at resting, so we needed to be told exactly what to do with our time on one day-a-week.

I wouldn’t be so bold as telling you to rest right now. That’s not my place.

Yet, I can tell you that I know I’ve been quite bad as resting and taking breaks. I’ve needed to remember that the Sabbath is a command because I’d otherwise push myself to keep working or keeping my mind busy regardless of how bad it is for me.

Since I’m not an all-knowing deity, it’s far more constructive to share an invitation to rest with others. If I’m invited to rest, then I have an opportunity to consider enjoying something that may be good for me.

If I reject on an opportunity to rest, then I should evaluate my reasons and consider whether they’re valid. I’m more likely to find an invitation appealing because I’m being invited to do something I may enjoy or find beneficial.

Invitations are usually good. We receive invitations to parties, for instance, and most of us like parties—provided we like the people at the party.

My latest book frames rest and renewal as an invitation. I share how creative projects like art and woodworking became sources of restoration that have delivered many more benefits than I could hope to gain from the same old, same old on social media.

I still read the news and connect with people in limited ways on social media, but I’ve tried to cut distractions out of my time dedicated to rest and renewal. I share about the ways I have made more space for creativity throughout my day in my latest book:

Creative Renewal: An Invitation to Make Stuff and to Stop Clicking Stuff is on sale for $.99 on Kindle right now leading up to its release on May 17th.

There’s a good chance you may need to read how I overcame my resistance to creativity and found real joy and love for artistic pursuits that I never would have tried before. You may even like trying some of the creative projects I’ve enjoyed.

You‘re invited to make more space for rest and renewal, and creativity may be one of the best ways to actively make inner restoration a reality.

Creativity has been good for my soul, and it can be for you as well.


Learn More about Creative Renewal

Creative Renewal releases on May 17, 2022.

It’s on sale for $.99 on Kindle during pre-orders. Learn more about it here.



What Happens During a Season of Rest?

soul care rest image

After some much-needed time away on vacation completely disengaged from client work (editing books, writing blog posts, etc.), social media, and the daily practice of writing, I’m still not quite sure what happened to me.

The intensity of life grew especially acute before we left since I had a major book draft to wrap up and a pile of work to set in place, to say nothing of packing and planning for our three weeks away. Our car always has an expensive repair right around this time to boot.

Stepping away, I felt like I flipped off a switch in my brain, and coming back, there are moments when I’m not quite sure if I should flip it back on again or if I really have any say in the matter. Perhaps I had simply woven a narrative of being busy and it took a time of rest to shut it down.

Then again, there are legitimate seasons of increased intensity that need to be faced.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of this season of rest is that I stepped out of my mindset of constant urgency, reacting to each successive challenge. While certain challenges in life can stir us to urgent action, my sense is that urgency and reaction can become default responses at times.

The perfectly normal and even the mundane can be viewed through a lense of urgency and reaction that makes more of them than warranted.

This season of rest has offered a welcome time for greater awareness of my outlook each day, how I respond to the events of each day, and how other practices and responses could help.

During my time away I had a chance to step away from many things that appeared urgent or vitally important, to replace them with things that were better for my soul, such as reading, silence, or a walk, and to assess the impact on my life.

While I certainly can’t live each week with the same amount of time alloted for reading, recreation, or silent prayer, I was able to see how many of the urgent parts of my life were more of a mirage, an image conjured in the heat of the moment that then became imprinted in place. Even worse, the urgent, reactive parts of my life had been crowding out or at least interfering with my already limited time for silence, rest, and reflection.

Making space for rest continues to remind me how my view of reality can become distorted, skewed by what appears to be urgent or important. Rest has allowed me to remind myself what it feels like to live without impediments on the soul care practices I value the most.

Rest has reminded me what life can feel like when I preserve space for spiritual restoration and attempt to maintain a more measured perspective of each challenge in my day.

Perhaps rest could even remind me what it feels like to live by faith, that a sense of urgency won’t really help me transcend my very normal limitations. Rest reminds me that pushing myself to my limits really isn’t adding all that much in the grand scheme of things and that perhaps a bit of soul care could do far more for myself and for others.

 

Photo by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash