Rest has become synonymous with sleep or a cessation of activity or doing nothing at all. But what if rest is so much more than that.
There are so many things that we do in order to rest. But much of what we consider rest doesn’t work because it is not restful.
The most effective rest occurs when we are purposefully reviving the parts of our life we regularly deplete. If we’re not meeting this goal, then it isn’t rest; it’s just adding more to do in our already busy schedule.
Here are six REST strategies that don’t work:
Vacations are great opportunities to experience new things and explore new places, but they often fail to pour back into our restless lives to the degree needed to resuscitate them.
Isn’t it ironic that whenever we go on a vacation, we still feel as if we need another vacation from our vacation? That’s because the one thing we all crave is, TIME. The gift of being at rest, free from schedules and agendas.
The truth is vacations are only temporal remedies for rest but rarely leave us feeling rested.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, over eight million people in the United States struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep every night. Most of them are dependent on medications to help them sleep.
These sleeping pills on average succeed to give most people six to eight hours of sleep. However, despite getting more sleep with sleeping pills, over 50% of people still complain that they do not feel rested.
Many are dependent on sleeping pills and can’t sleep without it. Medicated sleep is certainly better than no sleep at all, even though most sleeping pills linger in the body for several hours, leaving you mentally handicapped the next day.
Medications can get you to sleep but they cannot provide quality rest.
#3. Sleep Marathons
For some of us, weekdays are spent staying up late to fit in as many activities as possible into our busy schedules each day. This leaves us so exhausted that we easily fall sleep and crash hard but struggle to get up each morning.
The weekends are the only time to play catch-up. And we trade our normal six to seven hours of sleep for ten hours on Saturday and Sunday. We sleep until our body hurts from having been in bed for too long.
We wake up with a sleep hangover and wonder why we feel so horrible. We got extra sleep, but it left us feeling more tired than the days we woke up on time.
These sleep marathons are more harmful than helpful. The prolonged time without food sends our body into a fasting state, where it begins breaking down muscle and fat for energy.
Sleep marathons are not healthy and do not provide the kind of rest our bodies need.
#4. Movie Marathons
Binge watching all your favorite TV shows or movies that you’d like to catch up on for several hours and staying up until late at night to do so, only leaves you more tired and feeling less rested.
We often think that if we can get more things done faster, then maybe we’d have more time to ourselves. Multitasking assumes that your brain can focus efficiently on numerous tasks at one time and do each of them optimally.
But that is not true.
Multitasking causes mental fatigue. It splits our attention between activities and increases the potential for errors. It impairs our judgement and reduces our performance.
Multitasking doesn’t lead to more time for rest. If you allocate time to complete each task before moving to the next, you will find that you finish faster than you would multitasking.
Scaling down our overly busy lives and unpacking our full schedules with less activities, in order to create more free time to do things we love, sounds like a great idea. But what we do with the free time we now have matters.
Our human default is to do what’s easy rather than what’s beneficial. It’s easy to recline on the sofa with a bowl of ice-cream or our favorite comfort food and watch TV. This is escapism and not rest.
Downsizing our lives without a restful plan to fill in the gaps for our free time, only opens the door for other enemies like laziness and apathy.
Learn more about The Gift of Rest.
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Susan Egbe-Tanyi, MD is a board-certified family medicine physician. She is also the founder of Empowered Women Faith Club, where she writes to empower women to live confidently knowing who they are as daughters of God and encourages weary moms to find strength in God through the journey of motherhood. She is a wife, mother of three treasured kids, a passionate follower of Christ, lover of nature and a servant at heart. She practices medicine in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband and three children.