Avoiding the Danger of Exhaustion: Scheduling Adequate Rest Time

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It’s a dangerous practice: not scheduling adequate rest time, but in a generation that prides itself on the constant go, go, go: how do you make it happen?

My calico cat doesn't need help scheduling adequate rest time. She knows she needs it.

Rest is critical for the body; any athlete knows that. If you work out and train every day of the week, 365 days per year, your body will tire out, leaving you prone to injury. Likewise, if you don’t give your body sustenance in the form of food and water, you will also be prone to injury, fatigue, and sickness. In the same way, we need rest from commitment, time to recharge, be fed from the Word, and to spend time with those closest to us, our spouse and kids. In the busy, non-stop society we live in, it’s hard to find uninterrupted time. And in a world that never wants to hear “no”, it can be difficult to be the one saying it.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2

I am terrible with “no” and always have been. I always feel I’m letting someone down with my “no” and will always err on the side of “yes”. That all came to a head three years ago when, after saying yes to every commitment that came my way, I found myself exhausted, physically sick, and spiritually and emotionally drained.

While taking care of everything around me, I’d forgotten that I too need rest and recharging. Trust me, friend, without the active pursuit of rest, exhaustion is all but guaranteed. By trying to keep up with the world, I’d lost sight of God’s will for my life.

It was time to make a change, and after a time of saying no to everything, thankfully, I did find rest and was able to step back into the world of friendships and commitments, this time with boundaries.

Scheduling adequate rest time

If you are going to set boundaries, where do you start? First thing on the list: time management. How will you budget your time when life gets busy and the demands on your time increase? These needs are different for every family and individual. I need more rest than many, and I need to plan accordingly.

Among determining WHO you will make a priority (a conversation for another week), there is the matter of determining WHAT and HOW MUCH you will do with your time.

Will you fill in every moment, even when you need rest?

The “Just Say No” Method

Justin and I use a system we call “just say no” days, weekends, and weeks. We’ve even had one “just say no” month. (Sounds hard, but if you are really tired, an entire month of rest can be just what the doctor ordered.) The idea is that you schedule it into the calendar. For us, our shared electronic calendar reads “just say no to everything” on whatever day(s) we’ve chosen. This works, mostly because EVERYTHING goes on the calendar. If one of us makes an appointment, we always check to make sure there isn’t another conflict. In this case, the commitment is to rest, and that makes it very easy to say no to anything else that might come up.

When do we schedule this time? At the beginning of the month, or when we see a busy few weeks coming up, we immediately block out time on our calendar so we don’t make any additional plans. The beauty of this method is it allows us the opportunity not only to say no, knowing we’ve already made a commitment to ourselves but to visually see the “light at the end of the tunnel” in busy seasons of our lives.

Let me tell you, the more we find time to rest, together and as a family, the more we crave our rest time.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

God asks us to be still. How do we do that if don’t actually make time for it? Even God took rest on the seventh day, and Jesus emphasized rest to the disciples as well.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they didn’t not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet pace and get some rest.” – Mark 6:31

Jesus often took time to rest, to hear God’s will for him in silence. How are we so different that we think we don’t need rest?

What does it look like?

What does a “just say no” day look like, you ask? It’s the kind of day that comes with sleeping in late and waking to breakfast cooking, perhaps pancakes on the griddle with eggs and sausage. (My husband never sleeps in, and he’s the cook in our home.) It’s not the daily oatmeal we have as we rush out the door on weekdays (and most weekends). The slower pace might even be marked by everyone still pajama-clad, possibly even as lunch rolls around.

It looks restful, unhurried, peaceful. Perhaps some time of reading books we otherwise don’t have time to read (need a good devotional about rest? Check out this one!). Or spending time studying the Bible. Or snuggled up in front of the fireplace with a purring cat. The options are endless when you don’t have anything else pressing you.

The key is that this “day off” is it’s just that, just a day (or weekend) off.  When it’s over we are ready (hopefully!) to head back to our commitments, our jobs, school, church, and anything else we’ve been called to participate in. This day off is simply our way of regrouping and connecting with one another, without the tug of time constraints and commitments.

To effectively manage our day-to-day responsibilities, we must plan ahead for times of rest so we don’t become depleted, mentally, physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. And when we do, we become better witnesses, find ourselves less stressed about the day-to-day, are able to cope parenting responsibilities, have a closer connection with each other, and are more in tune with the life that God planned for us.

Getting Familiar with Quiet

Rest doesn’t come easy to many people, so I’d just like to mention one thing: If you have been a busy, go-go-go person for years, it will be hard to stop for a day, and might feel nearly impossible to stop for multiple days in a row.

The silence may feel deafening, and you may feel tempted to give in, to fill it with noise, with commitments, to invite someone in to invade the space you need, but just don’t know how to deal with.

Don’t give in.

Like anything in life, it takes practice to get good at resting. My husband that can’t sleep in on Saturday mornings: he’s trained himself to get up daily at 5:30 and his body knows that’s the thing to do. Likewise, if you train your mind to rest in the quiet, it will eventually do so.

It won’t happen overnight, so don’t give up.

Make the commitment

Rest is like any other commitment: if you don’t make a plan, it will never happen and you will end up exhausted, crippled by your inability to say no.

How do you budget your time to make room for rest? What do you need to do this week to guarantee more rest time?

Love,

Sarah

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Avoiding the Danger of Exhaustion: Scheduling Adequate Rest Time

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