My Journey to Rest- Notes from an Achiever Heart
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
The old me would want to title this post, "Five Easy Steps to Rest" or "How to Rest like a Pro" or "Start Resting Now!". I even considered titling this post "My Road to Rest". But realistically, learning to rest has been no where near a quick process, there wasn't an easy road map to navigate and I still haven't "arrived" at an end point. In fact, it's been bumpy, foggy at times and required stepping into uncharted territory. Here are some quick facts about me: I'm an achiever, competitive, oldest child, married at 21, goal driven, biochemistry major, traveler, lover of new things, church raised, creative, and now first time mama. I was pretty sure that "rest" just didn't fit into the definition of who I am.
From childhood to adulthood, I was in the habit of filling every empty space of time that I had. This is my new indicator of when I'm not doing well. I understand that schedules get busy, but if I start finding myself "unstoppable" or "uninterruptible", there's an issue.
My friends have been the best example of rest in my life. In my last year of undergrad I was pregnant with my son and taking over 20 units a semester. Normally, I would be sinking. I had never been good at studying for exams because 1) before college I didn't really need to 2) I would cram and complete everything in one 8 hour sitting 3) this cramming made me never want to study 4) I'd spend all that time cramming and not pass. It was a vicious cycle that as an achiever who was used to doing everything at once, I hadn't cracked the code to. In this same year, our dear friends were living with us. My friend Abbie, is going to finish her P.H.D. before her 28th birthday. Her life should be screaming that there is no time to rest, but instead I saw her week after week complete a million plus tasks and still slate a day for rest/sabbath on her calendar. She taught me so much in that year. I stopped making excuses and crafted better habits.
How I live differently
The Power of a Planner
During school I was using my paper planner on a moment by moment basis. When I became a mom, my planner came out about once a month, but I was really relying on my phone's calendar a lot. The past couple months, I realized how much having a physical planner really helps me. I don't usually bring it with me anymore, but it stays out and opened up in a prominent spot where I will pass it every day. As a stay at home mom, my schedule is really weird. Some days I will have meetings/appts that have a specific slotted time scheduled, but a lot of my week is filled with tasks that I just want to accomplish at some point. Now on Sundays, I make a list of everything I'd like to accomplish in the week and put it on a sticky note in my planner. I then try to assign a few tasks to each of the days in the week. How does this play in to rest? Once I complete the day's tasks, that's it. No tacking on other things from other days. Also, I really try to complete the tasks on the day so that they don't pile up and overwhelm me at the end of the week. Basically, sticking to what I have written down keeps me not only on task, but also gives me permission to do nothing once I have completed those tasks.
Start the week off slowly
The weekends can get so busy for us! I've started something new this year where I try to keep Monday as a day where my kiddo and I take it ridiculously slow. We take the morning to stay in comfy clothes and watch cartoons. When he goes down for his first nap, I make a second cup of coffee, light a candle, sit by the window, do my devotion and then probably Pinterest :). To bring some reality into that sentence, this past Monday that second full cup of coffee ended up all over the couch. So there's that. I know that not everyone can take hours on a Monday morning like this, and soon my son's schedule will change AGAIN and I will have to adjust this routine too. It can sound daunting to get up early every day (before getting ready for work, before kids wake up), so I challenge you to start with one day. Try to give yourself just 15 more minutes at the start of your week to charge up and do something that makes you happy. Trust me that it will set the tone for your week. When that coffee inevitably spills you will have it in you to clean it up and move on.
Heart Check- I Am Enough
This whole category for me could just be called counseling. Everyone is on a different journey. Personally, my journey has been shifted by counseling and knowing who I am in Christ. I've mentioned on here before that I have dealt with depression and anxiety. I began realizing the fact that I couldn't leave gaps or silences in my life was an issue. I started asking questions, like Why can't I rest? Why can't I fall asleep? Counseling came when I was unable to answer these questions on my own. Heart check ups are so important. Get good at asking yourself questions, and journaling about them! And if you're unable to find the answer to questions on your own, don't be afraid to seek out a friend, mentor or even professional to help you along the way! I'm still unwrapping answers to questions I have, but the phrase that empowers me to find rest every day is this: I Am Enough. My tasks, profession, degree and roles don't get to define my worth. My achiever, perfectionist tendencies can swing a pendulum on some days and all arrows start pointing to me not measuring up. In the past, that would amp me up into a hyper drive of performance that was never satisfied. Now when I feel like I'm not measuring up I do what is counter-intuitive, I pause, reflect, ask questions, and I try not to press Go again until I am working from the place of enough. I haven't made it and I still have days of hyper drive. I'm not perfect but I am enough.
Do Something that seems Unproductive
These words are starting to make me cringe less and less. Mostly because I've realized how powerful these moments are. They fill me up and make me so unbelievably happy. In the gaps that you have created for yourself in your calendar do something that you don't need to be doing. Some ideas:
Read a book or magazine that is not required or super heady.
Color in a coloring book
Build a Lego set (The new Harry Potter ones are soooo fun!)
Go to a new coffee shop and browse Pinterest
Go to a Movie
Make something for fun
Learn something new that is unnecessary (dance class, instrument, painting etc.)
Schedule this time in, whether it's an hour weekly, or a couple minutes daily. This is one thing you'll add to your calendar that you will see give back to you throughout the week and give you something to look forward to. I've learned that I function best in all of my other roles when I'm doing things like this for myself.
How do you deal with the topic of rest in your life? What healthy rest habits have you created along your journey? I'd love to hear from you!
Most of all know today that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
If you liked this post check out this Lifestyle Post: Cultivating Creativity