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Getting Real Rest

A while back I had a long weekend unencumbered by any work. I had friday off for my monthly day of prayer and sabbath, nothing to do for the job that weekend, and no freelance projects on my plate.

It was glorious to have that much free time! I turned off my alarm and slept in (till 7:00am each day!), spent hours reading (Semper Virilis, Rise of Superman), worked on evening out my farmer’s tan (hooray Vitamin D!), took some hot and cold baths, picked up fresh, local produce at the farmer’s market, cooked some nice meals, spent some serious time in prayer and reflection… and afterwards I was so refreshed and ready to take on the work week with renewed enthusiasm and energy!

That weekend was very restorative for me. I just plain felt good physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Reflecting on that weekend this morning, while in the middle of a work blitz with very little time off, I’m reminded of the importance of real rest and restoration. Evenings off watching TV or playing video games isn’t enough. Heck, a single Saturday off may not be enough if you’ve been working hard for an extended period of time (it hasn’t been for me!).

It’s important to actually work at getting rest. A lazy day is just a lazy day; setting aside the time to do things that actually feed into your heart, soul, mind, & body pays dividends in your day to day life.

It's been my experience that doing things to rest & restore is much more effective rest than just lazing around doing nothing.

I’d strongly encourage y’all to have a “get myself back to center” weekend every once in a while. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; other than a few errands, I stayed at home all weekend. I am an introvert, so having an extended period of alone time is actually pretty necessary for me, but even if you’re not a semi-shut-in like I am, a down-time weekend (preferably at least 3 days) can really benefit your overall well-being. And if you are a big-time extrovert, maybe throwing a weekend cook out is exactly what you need to get the same restorative effect.

So find a weekend where you can take off a friday and do some or all of the following:

Ignore work (but don’t neglect it!).

Take extended time to read something that encourages, inspires, or informs you.

Go to bed early and sleep late multiple days in a row.

Spend time outdoors.

cook a healthy meal and slow down to savor it when you eat it; don’t just wolf it down.

actually listen to some great music (don’t just have it on as background noise)

watch an excellent movie or TV show

take a relaxing hot bath (with epsom salt!), or an invigorating ice bath (I did both!)

tackle a home project that will give you a sense of accomplishment

do a fun, unstructured workout outdoors (I did burpee intervals, jumprope intervals, and some supersets of pull-ups and hanging leg lifts)

take your dog to the park

go for a long walk in your neighborhood

spend more time than you normally do in prayer, meditation, or reflection

My one caution would be this: don’t go hog-wild and throw your discipline out the window with food & drink. Don’t make it a binge weekend, especially if you’re already on a good path to health & fitness. A drink or two? Adding dessert to dinner? Pancakes for breakfast one day? Sure. But don’t consume so much junk that your body has to work overtime to recover. Nursing a hangover or feeling lethargic from a huge unhealthy meal defeats the point of having a restorative weekend.

So go to your calendar, and block off a 3+ day weekend where you can have a healthy block of unbusyness to restore your mind, spirit, and body.

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