One observation I have heard visitors to the States often make is that Americans are always in such a hurry, and that we don’t seem to know how to relax. In contrast, people in some countries work fewer hours and have much longer vacations. In some cultures, a nap is just part of daily life. The idea of “hurry” and “overtime” just doesn’t fit in with my idea of Tahiti.
When was the last time you took a break to just enjoy a beautiful day? Can you take a real day off? A real vacation? Do you feel guilty when you do?
Wellness coaching is often thought of as a means to lose weight or regain fitness. Therefore, discussion may focus on diet and exercise, or the number of hours spent sleeping. However, the larger picture of a healthier life is not just a regular bedtime, but breaks in routine throughout the week or month or year.
In these times of hurry and over-commitment, we might rationalize that we just can’t afford to step away simply to unwind and recharge. Even though God does not get tired, He set the precedent for us by resting one day after working for six days on Creation. The commandment to rest one day a week was important enough to be included in the initial Ten. Rather than a heavy obligation, this commandment is a mercy gift to us from Him. God also gave Israel holidays (from “holy days”) as times for celebration, worship, and family.
It’s not enough to just rest from physical work; we also require mental, emotional, and spiritual refreshing. So many of us are exhausted mentally and emotionally, which affects our physical energy levels as well. Just as the body is recharged by ceasing exertion and taking time to sleep, the soul and spirit are recharged by time spent in peace and quiet, the beauty of nature and art, and just having fun, to name a few.
“If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success.” (Eccl. 10:10 NAS)
So instead of figuratively hacking away at the forest with a dull blade, taking time for rest and relaxation sharpens our axe so that our work is actually of higher quality and more productive. A “working vacation” is unsatisfactory and does justice to neither work nor vacation.
More than that, it’s time to give ourselves permission to rest, not only when feeling tired, but as a regular part of our lifestyle. The world can manage without us for a little while. If we don’t draw our own boundaries, someone else surely will. A weekly day of rest and other set-apart times are God’s gift to man. Accept this gift for yourself.
A wellness coach can be a wonderful ally who supports the decision to give yourself permission to engage in R&R. The coach can help navigate the balance between work and rest, and encourage creativity in healthy diversions from the pressures of “hurry sickness”. A brain-storming session followed by action steps involving marking dates for R&R on the calendar is wonderfully liberating and honoring to our personal humanity.
But before you book that six-month trip to Tahiti, it would be wise to begin with baby steps: a regular day off, an afternoon walk in the park on a beautiful day, and a weekend now and again. The quality of your rest is enhanced by how you choose to spend your time. Practicing new and intentional choices to nurture your soul and spirit builds a habit of greater appreciation, comfort, and wholeness that can be more easily maintained. As incremental changes are introduced and supported, a lifestyle of honoring your need for rejuvenation will be developed. Then, on an upcoming day of rest, you can daydream about a trip to Tahiti, and your coach can help you make that happen too!
Donna Astern just got back from a few days of R&R in which she slept, read, prayed, & enjoyed the beauty of nature.