| | |

Designed to Rest

‘Taking time off will allow you to work more efficiently whenever you get back to it. Set aside one day each week to unplug to improve productivity and feel a greater sense of accomplishment’. (Cherry, 2021)

‘Take one day off a week…’ pretty sure I’ve heard that advice somewhere before!

Rest. It’s becoming the ‘in’ thing now isn’t it? Motherhood blogs everywhere are saying fill up your cup so you can look after others, ‘don’t feel guilty about self-care’, ‘take time for yourself, it isn’t selfish’. It’s now pretty trendy to be counter-cultural, to realise that we need rest, that we function better when we take time out. Our world thrives on being productive, we often boast about how busy we are as if it makes us feel important. We feel that we have to say what we’re going to do with our time off, have a plan and something to show for it. As a society we’re working harder and more than ever, often expected to be available evenings and weekends, thanks to always being connected online!

However recently people have been speaking up about putting boundaries in place with our time, to value family time and to not feel guilty about being a bit more selfish with our time. I have really noticed this in my world as a mom and the social media feeds from other parents. There’s been a surge of self care strategies and tips. Almost to the point that it can feel like one more thing we ‘should’ be doing! However there are going to be times in our lives where self care does not look like spa days, hair appointments and long baths. It may look like just stopping for a few moments and choosing a bible study (I mean that’s what I know I should do, often my mind is too overloaded to think so I just stop and scroll on my phone!) or to read instead of doing the dishwasher one more time. As my kids are no longer babies I love that I can now book in a hair cut or even go for a long walk without worrying about feeding the baby. Finding rest in those very early stages is hard and looks different.

God taught us all along that we should build in continuous rhythms of rest. One day a week where we stop and rest, nothing expected in that time but to stop, rest and delight in God’s creation. ‘By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work’ (Genesis 2:2). Jesus explains that this one day at the end of the week – the Sabbath – was intended as a gift for man, as a way to love God and enter into His rest. Mark 2:27 ‘The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath’. Hebrews 4:9-10 ‘There remains then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His’. God wants to give us the gift of rest! It’s a gift that He knows we need and we shouldn’t feel guilty receiving it.

There is no shortage of research and findings out there on the health benefits of rest on our bodies and our ability to be productive. It is widely known that poor sleep can affect our mental health. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any research stating that rest and sleep are in any way detrimental to our health and productivity.

A research study by Gottselig et al (2004) looked into the effects of sleep and rest on auditory learning. They compared the effects of sleep, busy waking (watching a movie) and restful waking (lying in the dark, awake). They wanted to test the ‘interference hypothesis’ that sleep facilitates learning because it prevents interference from other sensory input. They wanted to know whether this applies to sleep alone or could an increase in learning be achieved with restful waking too. They found that restful waking provided similar benefits to sleep on auditory learning. Therefore suggesting that the conditions that accompany restful waking, the reduction of sensory input i.e., in the dark, no phones, no screens etc, is helpful to facilitate learning. This is useful information when we think about what rest is for us and what type of rest can truly benefit us.

Likewise Lim et al (2017) carried out a study into the effects of napping and rest breaks in sleep-restricted adolescents (those shortening their sleep so they could get their study and revision done). They found that napping partially reverses the detrimental effects of sleep-restriction on processing speed. They also found that rest breaks between tasks had a greater effect as a countermeasure against poor performance when sleep pressure (the need to sleep) was higher. Therefore suggesting that when we are unable to take a break to sleep it is important that we at least take a break between tasks in order to protect against poor performance in those tasks at hand. This is good news for those with sleep deprivation due to kids and new babies. Let’s stop the ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ advice, because who are we kidding, some babies never sleep! Let’s encourage and stress the importance of rest breaks. Let’s talk more about being mindful of how we take those rest breaks. It is encouraging that turning screens off, reducing noise and light can benefit our bodies.

So scientific research is showing that we should take time off to rest, that we are healthier, more productive and happier if we do so. It’s almost like God designed us that way, oh wait, He did! God created us and perfectly designed us. He knows the importance of rest on our bodies. It’s no wonder that it’s good for us and the world around us!

We just completed a course with our small group called ‘Practicing the Way’ by John-Mark Comer (Sabbath series, www.practicingtheway.com). In their discussion on Sabbath they report on a study into a large community of Christians who practice the sabbath regularly and found that they lived 11 years longer than the average person. It was stated that a doctor theorised that if you practice sabbath every year of your life you spend roughly 11 years of your life sabbathing. Therefore practicing the sabbath adds one year of your life to every year you sabbath. What interesting findings!

We can live fuller lives when we’re well rested too. Those fruits of the spirit – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Goodness, Kindness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) are very hard when we’re tired.

People eating dinner together

All this stuff that’s becoming trendy in self care and wellness, it’s written in the Bible from the very beginning. God designed this for us! We have a creator God who has a carefully thought out plan and design for us. How cool is that?!

‘ I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well’ (Psalm 139:14)

I fully recommend John Mark Comer’s ‘Practicing the Way’ and the Sabbath series – www.practicingtheway.com. There are many insightful thoughts and practical tips on how we can put Sabbath rhythms into place in our lives.

How do you and your families manage to fit rest into your week? it’s hard with kids right?! I’d love to hear your tips and tricks, feel free to comment below.

Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.

(Matthew 11:28)

References

  1. Cherry, H (2021, Jan 15th) The Benefits of Resting and How to Unplug in a Busy World, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2021/01/15/the-benefits-of-resting-and-how-to-unplug-in-a-busy-world/?sh=9d4c34621338
  2. J.M Gottselig, G Hofer-Tinguely, A.A Borbély, S.J Regel, H.-P Landolt, J.V Rétey, P Achermann, Sleep and rest facilitate auditory learning, Neuroscience, Volume 127, Issue 3, 2004, Pages 557-561, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2004.05.053
  3. J Lim, J.C Lo, M.W.L Chee, Assessing the benefits of napping and short rest breaks on processing speed in sleep-restricted adolescents, Journal of Sleep Research, Volume 26, Issue 2, 2017, Pages 219-226, https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12497

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *