Learning How to Rest

Learning How to Rest

(This post originally appeared on Hanna's personal blog.)

I’ve been battling exhaustion for a few months now.

I know everyone has. Something about the “new school year” – even if you’re not in school or your work/life isn’t impacted by the academic calendar, it’s just so hard to get back into the swing of things post-summer and everything just gets crazy busy.

After a long hard day, Tyler’s and my favorite way to rest is to curl up on our upstairs couch and binge-watch a Netflix show. Lately it’s been “Suits.” We’ve been so tired and run ragged by daily life, we’ve been throwing ourselves on the couch more and more to turn off our brains and escape the day by immersing ourselves into Harvey, Mike and the latest plot twist.

Recently, I’ve heard a few comments from friends who got rid of their TV. Insert immediate feelings of shame.

DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME I NEED TO GET RID OF MY TV.

(Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to do that.)  But they, too, were using the art of Netflix-binging as way to escape reality and rest. However, what they discovered is that while their brain was turned off from the stuff of the day, they weren’t experiencing true rest.

So what really is rest?

If you look rest up in the Miriam-Webster dictionary, you’ll find a dozen definitions. The first few are what you’d expect.

1. to stop doing work or an activity : to spend time relaxing, sleeping, or doing nothing after you have been active or doing work

But here are two of my favorites:

2. to stop using (something) so that it can become strong again

3. to be free from anxiety or disturbance

True resting should make us strong again. True resting should free us from anxiety.

And if I’m honest with myself, laying on the couch and watching TV – whether it’s "Suits," "Brooklyn 99," "Mindy Project," "Scandal" or the very best, Jimmy Fallon - it’s not really freeing me from anxiety, and it’s definitely not making me feel strong again.

A couple weekends ago, I attended the Influence Conference and one of the speakers asked us what made us feel wild and free. 

For me it’s open windows, music playing throughout the speakers in our house, dancing in the kitchen with my husband, prepping and cooking an elaborate meal (while drinking wine, can’t leave that piece out), going on an early morning hike in the fall, spending time curled up with a book, intentional quiet/alone time; my list goes on…

And while I don’t really know what constitutes “wild and free,” what I know is that those things make my heart happy, they fill me with joy, and – you guessed it – rest. They allow me to shake off anxiety; they make me feel strong again.

I came home from the conference and one of the first things I said to my husband was, “I love watching TV with you and laying on the couch. And I’m not going to throw the TV out of our house, but I do need to start resting differently with you.”

I need more intentionality in the way I rest.

I know that sounds insane, but hear me out. The way I was resting was not real rest.  Do I still want lazy weekend mornings in bed where we watch TV 'til noon and drink coffee? Absolutely. But the really amazing kind of resting for me is found in the things I listed earlier, things that make my heart sing, things that free me from anxiety and make me feel strong.

The past two weeks, I’ve been resting differently and I have to say I’ve had way more energy, felt lighter and more excitable. Instead of dragging and barely surviving, I feel like I’m finally living again.

So what about you? What is your go-to resting look like and is it freeing you from anxiety and making you feel stronger? What would intentional resting look like for you? What are those things that make you feel wild and free or make your heart bubble up with joy?

(Image by Julie Bloom.)


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