I’m confused. I took a “personal day” today. Actually, I’m giving myself a day off, because being mostly self-employed it becomes a choice. Of course there is plenty I “should” be doing, which is causing me to feel a number of things: guilt, pressure, anxiety, discontentment, and heaviness, everything EXCEPT for restfulness. It has somehow been programmed into my brain that if I’m not doing something all the time then I must not be successful, or I’m somehow failing at life. It’s uncomfortable to take a day to rest. What is that about?
Just sit and be present. Am I the only one who has a really hard time with that?? Time is valuable, but isn't it a good use of time to take at least one day or even half a day to realign ourselves and tune into whats going on inside our heads? Maybe I don’t want to check in on that. I don’t want to have to focus on where my thoughts are. When we’re forced to be alone with ourselves it can be like being stuck in an elevator with someone that makes you uncomfortable. It’s awkward. If you’re still reading this, congratulations, you must be feeling the same way. Otherwise, you probably would have clicked off the page a few lines back while hardcore judging me. In all seriousness, though, I’ve caught myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram images and posts while watching Netflix today, and I don’t think, I know that something is wrong with that unfiltered picture. It actually bothers me to sit and watch a movie without also having my phone or computer in my hand. The only time it ever feels okay not to have something distracting my brain is when I’m completely burnt out and there’s no more energy left.
Drama queen. I know… but assuming you may be feeling the same way, what can we do to remedy this millennial issue?
I think we might have a misguided view of what rest looks like. For a lot of people, including me, it means being stuck to the couch or the bed with a computer glued to my lap and a phone in my hand. Just typing that sentence gave me anxiety. There is nothing restful about overstimulating our brains. Rest should be life giving not anxiety inducing! Another thing I’m noticing about myself is that I am addicted to that stuff and have straight up withdrawals when my “devices” aren’t at arms length. Funny thing is, I’m pretty sure I’ve never gotten done with a good half hour worth of highlight reel scrolling or a Netflix binge and said “Wow. I feel so alive and recharged!”. Actually, it’s usually the complete opposite response.
Rest, good ole Merriam Webster defines it as: “a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities” (duh you know that); “peace of mind or spirit; free of anxieties”… Pause. Physically, I got this, but the “peace of mind or spirit” and “free from anxieties” part not so much. Perhaps, before we can even experience restfulness we need to make sure we know ourselves, specifically our hearts, and I’m really starting to think maybe the reason I can’t stand to take a day to rest without getting freaked out is most likely just that, a heart issue.
Heart checks, as I like to call them, are great for discerning, (such a churchy word). For me it means asking myself “what is/was my motivation behind doing this?” If it’s selfish, not life-giving, or not in someone’s best interest then maybe there’s something in my heart that needs to be checked on.
"Guard your heart above all else. Everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) When someone is guarding something it means they are paying attention to every little warning, red flag, and detail surrounding that person or thing. What does someone guard something precious from? They guard from harmful people or things, from something or someone that would try to steal it, or from anything that could negatively affect whatever is being protected. What that means for us is that we should be on high alert when our actions aren't flowing right. It means we have let something influence us or take root in our hearts that should not be there. Basically, the guard was down and it slipped right past him. Now things are flowing out in our actions, our words, and our feelings and we can’t figure out what happened.
What fills us controls us. When we have some kind of bodily malfunction or skin issue a lot of times we test our diets to see if something we are feeding it is causing the problem. When the problem goes away after someone takes away the gluten from their diet obviously they have solved the problem. Even though most of the stuff they love has gluten in it… To those individuals my heart really does go out to you (along with my love handles). The point is, our hearts are similar vessels.
How can we guard our hearts if we don't even know what we're guarding them from? We do a diet test. Start temporarily taking things out of your typical day-off routine to see if they are the culprit of your cray. For me, this probably means social media and Netflix. Maybe for some people its alcohol, shopping, or gaming. For others it might mean giving up fast food or even pumping the brakes on an out of control dating life. I don’t believe those things are bad, but as habits they are as we let them control our time. I probably don’t need to tell you that. I just felt the need to clarify.
However, you can’t take something out and be expected to just breeze through your day without being tempted to jump back into it. So this is when we replace it with something that we know without a shadow of a doubt makes us feel genuine peace or energizes us. This part is fun and should be positive! It could be a hobby like cooking, reading (depending on what you’re reading), journaling/blogging, family time, taking a yoga or spin class, a day at the park with the pup. In my case, it usually means spending time with God and hearing from Him through His word, prayer, taking care of my body, or going on coffee dates with the people He’s placed in my life that uplift and encourage me.
So the next time you take a coveted “personal day”, take your chill pill, in whatever form that may be. Rest should be about taking a break from the things that suck the life out of you and replacing them with life!