A post by my friend Doug Hagler (at icanhasgrace.com) got me to thinking about the importance of finding regular time for rest. That’s challenging in a busy life, but it is so crucial to one’s mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.
Here are some things that have worked for me:
1. Spend time in nature, even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes a day. Nature has a healing effect on my psyche. Hearing birds sing is music to my soul. Seeing a beautiful sunset (or on rare occasions, sunrise) both calms and awes me. Smelling flowers (yes, I take time to smell the roses) brings back childhood memories, which are quite pleasant for me. (I am blessed.)
2. Make time for yourself every day. Every day. Even if it’s only to read a quick story, lie down for 10 minutes, look at art you enjoy, or to take a short walk.
3. Find things you enjoy that renew you. For me, writing in my journal is therapeutic, though I haven’t made time for that in several months. Sometimes I enjoy writing a letter to a friend or relative. I love to dabble with art. I have found that painting ceramics (when I can set aside time and money to do so) slows me down and helps me feel like I’ve been on a minivacation. As a lover of words, I’m renewed by reading poetry, especially if it’s Robert Frost or Maya Angelou or Ogden Nash or Kahlil Gibran.
4. Take time to laugh every day. Sometimes I read e-mail jokes I’ve been saving for a while. My husband and I watch a funny TV show nearly every day. We tend to like intense, dramatic shows like NCIS…but to balance that, we try to find something that makes us laugh. We enjoy “Big Bang Theory,” “The Middle,” and “How I Met Your Mother.” When we’ve seen all of the episodes we’ve recorded, we find ourselves going back continually to “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
5. Pay attention to your spiritual health. Sometimes I go for days without pausing to pray, and I catch myself. No wonder I’m feeling like the weight of the world is upon my shoulders! I try to spend a few minutes every day in quiet. It is during those times that I feel my soul take a deep breath…and I may even sense God speaking to me.
6. Exercise, exercise, exercise. It gets those endorphins flowing. I do best when I exercise with friends…I have a group of walking buddies, and we walk 3-4 days a week (on good weeks) at lunchtime. I’m trying to get back into yoga after several months of hiatus. That really pushes me, and at my age, I need a good physical challenge.
7. Look at your schedule for the next week. What events have you put on your calendar? Is it absolutely critical that you do every activity? Will anyone die if you don’t attend one of them? Do you have too many back-to-back activities that keep you out late at night and reduce your time for sleep?
8. Listen to your body. Pay attention to any signs of trouble, such as a persistent ache or changes in your bowel habits. Make an appointment with your doctor if you consistently feel run-down.
9. Let some things slide. Okay, so you missed exercising several days in a row, or you overate, or your house is a wreck. Give yourself some grace. You can start again tomorrow.
10. Take naps whenever possible. Revel in the luxury of napping while the rest of the world goes on. Get yourself a sleep mask to shut out day light, and use ear plugs to keep noises in your environment from interrupting you.
Nothing earth-shattering here. Find what works for you, and just do it.