Rest: What it is, What it’s Not, and How to Get It

Rest: What it is and what it’s not

You’re exhausted. Scorched. Worn too thin. Wound too tight.

You’ve been slaving away all year and you are ready for some rest. A vacation. A sabbath. A respite.

You need a break!

Well, me too! I’ve been thinking about rest lately, particularly because I have needed more of it. You see, my family and I are in the process of buying a new home AND selling our current one house so we have been on an





How would it be to finally feel rested? Today I want to help you get there – I have come to some realizations about rest, and I’m going to share them with you. We’ll go over what rest is, what it isn’t, as well as discover practical suggestions for leading a more restful life.

Disclaimer:This post is not meant to make anyone feel bad about their choices but rather to offer hope.

What is Rest?

Before I give you a dull dictionary definition, check out this beautiful quote from John Eldredge’s book Get Your Life Back:

Start with something you love. The laughter of your child. Sunlight on the ocean. Your beloved dog. A favorite song, music itself. Perhaps a photo, like my caribou. A favorite spot—your garden, the cliffs at the sea, the family cabin. Someone dear to you. We begin with the things we love; this is the way back, the path home. For we don’t always draw the connection—God made these specifically for you, and he gave you the heart to love them. You’ll be out for a bike ride in the very early morning, cool breeze in your face, all the sweet, fresh aromas it brings, the exhilaration of speed, and your heart spontaneously sings, I love this! The next step is to say, So does God. He made this moment; he made these things. He is the creator of everything I love. Your heart will naturally respond by opening toward him.”
― John Eldredge, Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad

Wow. How rejuvenating does all of that sound?

Now for the dictionary definition:

Google defines rest as

to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.

Rest is a time to cease mental and physical demands.

We’re Tired, Folks, and We Don’t Know How to Cope

A recent study from said that “six in 10 Americans say their sleep routine during quarantine has them feeling more exhausted than they’ve ever felt in their life!”.

That’s not good. While we all have time constraints and responsibilities, we owe it to ourselves and our families to find a better way. After all, you can’t give from an empty cup.

What I see in current popular culture when it comes to rest does not refresh the soul. Binge-watching T.V., zoning out to social media or the news, binge eating, drinking, food, shopping, and other mind numbing activities often only offer temporary relief from stress and other difficult emotions rather than reprieve, as talked about in Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge. Shopping, eating, television etc. are all fun treats in moderation, but they will not offer the rest you long for.

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The point is rest is restorative, not quick, temporary relief.

Rest is restorative, not quick, temporary relief.

Here are some tips and ideas for getting rest:

What makes me feel the most rested is just removing unnecessary demands from my life. Making room for white space. Getting in touch with my senses. Going outside. Going for a drive with the windows down. I don’t think anyone would argue with me that these activities are restful but I think this is the difference: don’t forget the basics. It’s important to remove optional activities but I think the “survival mode” culture thinks that forgetting basics will result in renewed energy but often it adds more stress.

True rest can occur when basic needs are met.

True rest can occur when basic needs are met.

What are these basics I’m talking about? Basic activities of living: brushing your teeth, bathing, doing your dishes, making sure you have clean clothes, going to bed at a decent time, eating healthy meals. Give yourself the gift of rest and cover your bases in these areas, as much as you can. You will feel so glad that these things are done and you can do whatever you want with your remaining time. If you avoid these activities you will never feel rested no matter how many “relaxing activities” you engage in. Sometimes, we gotta parent ourselves.

Barriers to Entering into Rest

Maybe a barrier you have to doing these things is time. We are all busy, that makes sense…chances are, however, that you may be wasting your time in an area of life and you’re not getting a return on your investment, in addition to coping in other unhealthy ways. A recent study stated,

“Even though Americans know that health is important and that feeling unhealthy impacts their quality of health and happiness, results reveal that the average American opts for the unhealthy food choice five times a week, even when given a healthier alternative.

In fact, 66 percent agree that when they are stressed, they tend to partake in unhealthy habits.”

Yes there are hard seasons in life with aging parents, newborn babies, working extra hours- there’s always something if we really think about it. We need to remember the locus of control. You can make things happen. No matter your circumstances, you can push the needle forward. We have to learn to master our own self-care so we can be more of a blessing to those around us.

Resilience and Locus of Control in the Time of Pandemic
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Maybe another barrier is a mental block. Maybe you have hygiene down but you have a sense of entitlement when it comes to dishes and laundry .Well I hate to break it to you but all human beings need clean dishes and clothes and a clean and tidy home will bring you great peace .

Think of these things as self-care. This will shift your mindset.

A More Restful Rest

Routines will help you develop habits that you will no longer think about. Whether or not to bathe should not be a daily decision. It should be automatic, as Fly Lady Kat says, like “flushing the toilet”. A gross analogy but effective- think about it, do you question whether or not you should flush the toilet? No, you do it out of habit. Other basic activities of survival should happen in the same way. It’s called being an adult. Fly Lady Kat is a great resource , she will change your life. When you the basics become habit, you can fully enjoy down time because it will truly be down time and not wasted time.