Lately, the topic of rest has come up quite frequently. Maybe it’s the sudden influx of late nights in the library, applying for internships, or being in a hectic school environment that’s revealing my need for it (or all three combined).
But after identifying this need, I tend to turn to the question, “Well then, seeing the need for rest is great and all, Mariel, but how does one go about actually achieving it?”
Good point. This question has led me to define the term “rest” for myself in general. What is rest? Of course rest can manifest physically in more sleep or a nap here and there, and it can manifest mentally in taking a break from work. But when circumstances aren’t ideal for more sleep or even taking a break from my homework, how can I find rest? Another problem that arises when I “rest” is the guilt that follows my mental or physical break. In this case, rest ends up stimulating more stress and quite frankly unrest. Now, that’s not good, is it?
Several weeks ago, however, when I was in dire need of a break but couldn’t justify sacrificing time to rest, one of my dear friends and my pastor both raised groundbreaking points to me about rest.
My friend, Cassie, had come up to me after seeing the apparent fatigue in my face and asked me how I was doing. I told her my struggles concerning being stressed and achieving rest without losing time to work. She responded with a seemingly counterintuitive statement. Sometimes rest starts with productivity. At first, I was confused but then realized what she was getting at. The guilt I was feeling from taking breaks stemmed from the little amount of work I got done as a result of the break. What Cassie pointed out simply emphasizes the importance of being productive in order to achieve a true sense of rest. Since then, I’ve heard this reiterated many times. It’s odd (but amazing) how you can hear something all the time and have it suddenly resonate so strongly with you.
The aspect of rest that my pastor brought up is that rest coincides with being content, being satisfied. The key is satisfaction. On top of feeling guilty, I was not feeling rested because I was not satisfied with the work I was doing and even the type of rest I was taking. When I thoroughly complete an assignment or manage to stay focused for 45 undisturbed minutes while studying for a test, the sense of satisfaction can be overwhelming and peace-giving. Sometimes working on a blog post is more restful and productive than taking a 30 minute nap that leaves me feeling groggy and disoriented.
Together, the aspects of productivity and satisfaction have radically altered my view of rest. It motivates me to work efficiently and effectively…or strive to at least. The productivity I achieve leads me to be satisfied with my work and I find mental rest in that satisfaction. Then, I can spend any extra time I have to truly rest, whether it be simply reading a blog, grabbing a meal with friends, or writing a blogpost like this one right here. My quality of sleep improves, and I feel better overall. The physical fatigue still sets in sometimes, but as they say, “mind over matter.” When I am mentally and emotionally at ease, my physical state tends to follow.
productivity >> satisfaction >> rest
I hope this commentary on rest has inspired you to reevaluate your own concept of “rest” and to see whether it is actually living up to its function. Are you truly resting? Think about it. Work with it. And hopefully experience it.
Special thanks to my talented friend, Hannah Choi, for the lovely photo. See more of her work here.
Wishing y’all a productive and restful weekend.