Everyone seems to like to talk about self-care and getting enough rest these days and for good reason. As a society we are pushing ourselves to the limit and in turn burning ourselves out. Self-care is important because you can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t give to those around you if you are running on empty. And part of self-care is getting enough rest. But does the kind of rest we are getting make a difference? I think it does.
My arm started hurting back in October. I figured I just simply tore a muscle and continued about my business. I was having surgery on my left foot at the beginning of November and was working on getting all my fall cleaning done since I would be on crutches for a while. Long story short my arm was still hurting after my recover. But I needed to have my right foot done as well so I pushed through spring cleaning and had the second surgery done. After I was fully recovered from both surgeries, I noticed that my arm still hurt a lot. It was getting hard to reach around my back to put lotion on, put on my bra, and even raise my arm at times. So off to the doctor I went where she quickly prescribed physical therapy.
Long story short, my physical therapist told me I had pushed my muscles for so long that they were irritated and tense. Just resting was not enough. I needed to be intentional about which motions to abstain from in order to keep from straining the muscles any more, while at the same time there were certain exercises and stretches I needed to do in order to release the tension in those same muscles. I was describing it all to a good friend when the words “focused rest” came out of my mouth. I am not sure where it came from but I really like it so I am running with it.
See, I think we can rest in all sorts of ways. We can rest by laying on the couch and watching Netflix, we can rest by reading a book, we can rest by taking a nap, or we can rest by clearing our schedules and heading to the nearest beach. There are many ways to rest. And often the idea is to relax or get away from the things that stress us out.
But what if we focused on the rest that is best for us? What if we were intentional and purposeful in the kind of rest we get. Right now, I am focusing on resting my shoulder by eliminating movements that aren’t good and incorporating movements that are. In the same way focused rest might look like taking a nap rather than sitting in front of the tv, because I recognize that while tv helps me to zone out for a while what I really need is a some extra “z’s” because of the late nights I have had recently.
Focused rest might mean stepping away from an activity I love that is taking too much of my energy and instead sitting at home and listening to my kid ramble about Minecraft or Fortnite. Much of what they are saying slipping in one ear and out the other as I stare at them and thank God for putting them in my life. And maybe I don’t have a clue what they are saying but they now know they can come to me and talk about anything.
Focused rest might mean slipping away for two hours at the beach with the family before your husband has to go in to work, and then spending the rest of your day catching up from it. And replaying all the great memories you made in your head as you finish up the housework.
For some it may be lounging in front of Netflix, and for others it may mean relaxing in a hot bath while reading a good book. For me, it can even be sitting outside, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature while typing my heart out on a new idea for my blog. Whatever it is, it is about focusing on the best way to rest for you, at this point in your life.
Sometimes, I can sit in front of the tv and say I am relaxing and resting, and yet hours later I don’t feel any more refreshed than when I sat down. If I took those hours I had and instead took a cat nap or read a book I would get up from that time feeling much more rejuvenated. Sometimes, for me at least, rest actually looks like work. I can rest from my normal schedule and instead organize a room and I feel fantastic afterward. (Yep, I may be a little crazy.)
Whatever works for you, focused rest is simply being intentional and resting with a purpose. It is doing what will revitalize and refresh you. There is a specific focus on the best way to rest to get the most benefit.
Focused rest means to:
And when I rest like that I find that my cup is overflows and ends up pouring out onto those around me. I find I have enough patience to invest in my husband and kid’s lives. I find I have enough strength to serve my family with a good attitude. I look at my schedule and instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel ready to take it on. And that makes it worth it to set aside the time for rest. Focused rest.