Sometimes people believe they must go-go-go constantly because that’s who they have always been. They get anxious because they push past their limits, and when they can't push anymore, they get depressed. They want therapy to magically give them energy they don’t possess. I ask my clients how do they “shut down.” Do they have a means of “unplugging"? Do they pull covers over their head or do they Rest Purposefully? I ask them, "Is rest something you do when you collapse at night or do you give yourself a break during the day?" Often they have no idea how to take a break and shut down. Sleep is their equivalent of rest.
This weekend I heard a pastor talking about how, "Even God worked all week and rested on the 7th day (Genesis 2:2)." He went on to talk about a vacation he went on where everyone knew how to unplug except him. I totally could relate to his story. I realized years ago that it took me 4 days to slow down enough to really appreciate the rest my body and brain needed so much. Now, when I want to unplug and recharge, I go on a motorcycle ride or I unplug from technology and go hike in the woods. Solitude is how I recharge because I'm with people all week. Riding my horse down a back road where there are no cars, no people, and no distractions, allows my mind to wonder, to admire the clouds, the flowers, and the simple pleasures that life offers for free.
When you have 15 minutes of undistracted time, go outside and stand with your hands to your side. Stand, I didn't say sit. I want you on your feet (if you can) and close your eyes. Do you feel balanced in your body or do you feel like the world is moving below your feet? Stand that way for a minute and really take inventory of your body. Is your heart racing? Can you hear your heart-beat in your ears? How about your breathing? Are your breaths shallow, panting, nearly nonexistent? Take a deep breath into your lungs. Fill them up. Do you get light headed? Breath out slowly. Is your breath choppy as it's released? If so repeat this until you feel a smooth release of your breath. Notice how you are feeling now. Take inventory again. Has the world stopped spinning, are you more relaxed in your body?
Smell the air. What do you smell? Flowers, the rain, car exhaust, your morning coffee on your breath? Note the fragrance and how it makes you feel.
Listen to the sounds surrounding you. Do you hear traffic, birds, a lawn mower, people?How does it make you feel?
See what is around you. Look at the clouds, the birds, the wind blowing in the trees.
Touch something; the fabric of your clothes, a flower peddle, your dog or your cat. Feel what you are holding and explore how it makes you feel.
Taste what you are eating for breakfast, sipping in your coffee, or even the toothpaste when you brush your teeth. Is it bitter or sweet? How does it make you feel?
Remember to do this. It will center you and help you stay balanced and positive.
Often little things annoy us in our subconscious and we are not even aware of them. How does this exercise make you feel? Are you finding things that make you feel good or finding things that irritate you? If they are good, do more of that. If they are irritants, avoid them. You can do this exercise anytime you are feeling overwhelmed. Do it all day long and become an expert at purposeful rest. Start your work day and your lunch break this way. Before you drive home from work, finish your work day doing this exercise in the driveway before you walk into your house. Your family will appreciate the more balanced you who has left the stress of the day at the doorstep of your house.
When you know what makes you happy, and you do more of those things, you will begin to feel more happy. You can't feel happy if you feel exhausted. If you feel exhausted you need rest. If you start your day with this exercise, you will begin your day more rested than if you just jumped into your daily routine. Slow down. Smell the roses and rest purposefully, even if for only 15 minutes a day.
"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done,
and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." Genesis 2:2 New King James