Rest is Not an Option for Leaders

They are too alive to die, and too dead to live.

This haunting observation of most people in the Western world was made by the Korean philosopher Byung-Chu Han.

We all have our own stories of trying to stay sane in the day and age of mobile phones, connected watches, a twenty-four-hour news cycle blaring from our devices, unceasing demands from family, church members, and our team, and …

Do you feel weary?

Do you feel burdened?

You’re not alone.

The most common answer to the question, “How are you?” is, “I’m good – just busy.”

That answer comes from everywhere, bridging gaps of gender, age, ethnicity, and class. Empty-nesters working from home are busy, even with their kids and grandkids spread across the country. New parents are busy, with a new mom headed back to work while the new dad begins the first week of parental leave. Even middle-schoolers are busy trying to juggle three different platforms of distance learning while helping around the home while trying to stay connected with their best friend in the neighborhood two streets over.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity by Saundra Dalton-Smith

Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested – now there’s a challenge.

How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? 

In Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.

Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative-and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. 

Sacred Rest combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.

By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

As a society that is now driven by better and faster technology, rest has become a lost art.

According to research, over eight million people in the United States struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep each and every night. 45 percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once a week. This epidemic has led to poor job performance, depressions, and overall dissatisfaction with quality of life and productivity.

According to author Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, finding genuine rest is more than overcoming insomnia.

Sleep is not rest. As different parts of an intricate system, sleep and rest are designed to work together to ensure every part of you has a way to regenerate and be restored.

Aborting rest empties me of everything holy. It strips me of the ability to treasure life and peels away the value of being. A life without periods of rest will not endure the daily grind.

Saundra Dalton-Smith

Physical Rest

None of us are at our best when depleted. Our bodies cannot fully function when they are in a constant fight for excellence high-performance, maximum effectiveness, and optimal capacity. It’s time to transition from our daily hustle to daily hush. In the hush, tension releases and recovery begins.

Mental Rest

Our mental background noise is often infused with negativity. Thoughts about the future are contaminated with anxiety, thoughts about the past are tainted with regret, and thoughts about the present are spoiled with discontentment. Mental rest involves relinquishing the constant stream of thoughts entering your mind quickly and obtaining a sense of cerebral stillness.

Emotional Rest

You experience emotional rest when you no longer feel the need to perform or meet external expectations. When our emotional withdrawals exceed our emotional capacity, we will experience emotional fatigue. Emotional rest is a deposit back into our emotional account.

Spiritual Rest

We all need sanctuary, a secure place where protection reigns and comfort is received. There we find a sense of security and peace that flows from our connection to God. Sanctuary is where we lay down our fight and rest. In the process, we find our way back home to a relationship with God.

Social Rest

Social rest is when we find comfort in our relationships and social interactions. It is the ability to find solace in another. Social rest reconnects us to uplifting, rewarding relationship exchanges. Just as the body hungers, your soul also hungers for connection. Loneliness is the soul’s pleas to feed your need for social rest.

Sensory Rest

Our overly busy and overly stimulating society has created the perfect environment for sensory overload, each technology advancement chipping away at the sanctity of our five senses. Periodic times of selective sensory deprivation deliberately  remove external distractions and stimuli from your senses in order to reenergize them.

Creative Rest

We need periods of creative rest to rejoice in and complement God’s work. We need his example to show us what creative rest looks like. Creative rest uses all God has created around us to create something inside of us.

Saundra Dalton-Smith, Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity

A NEXT STEP

First, take time to review each of the seven types of rest as described by author Saundra Dalton-Smith. On a scale of one to five, with one meaning “I never rest like this” and five meaning “I am able to rest like this most of the time,” score each type.

For types of rest where you scored a “three” or below, use the following suggestions from the author to become better at resting in that area.

Physical Rest

  • Practice body fluidity – When awake, don’t stay in the same position for more than an hour. Small acts of motion will help prevent stiffness from setting in.
  • Give stillness purpose – Choose to be totally still on purpose for five minutes while lying down, breathing in deeply to remember who is breathing into you.
  • Prepare for sleep – Develop a bedtime routine to prepare your body for sleep.

Mental Rest

  • Time block low-yield activities – Schedule all your energy-draining but necessary tasks into one time block, to be completed only then.
  • Meditate – Make a conscious effort to fill your mental space with restorative thoughts.
  • Create a mental sanctuary – Choose a characteristic of God (like the fruit of the Spirit) to rest on each day, giving you a mental place to return to throughout the day.

Emotional Rest

  • Be emotionally aware – Learn how to give and receive in relationships in ways that leave you emotionally healthy.
  • Cease comparisons – Acknowledge any areas where you may be comparing yourself to others, and give yourself permission to cease comparing.
  • Risk vulnerability – Cultivate rewarding relationships with those in whom you can find the strength to be vulnerable.

Spiritual Rest

  • Explore relationship – God is much easier to know when you take religion out of the question. His first request is simply to love Him.
  • Practice communion – In the privacy of your secret place, lift both hands high above your head to simply prove, “I need help.”
  • Reunite body-mind-spirit – If you want the help of the Healer, you must get to where He is and be still long enough to be examined.

Social Rest

  • Prioritize face-to-face time – Experience the closeness of being face-to-face and use those times to find comfort in the relationships you value.
  • Listen and learn – If most of your time with your closest relationship involves you talking, consider shutting up and listening.
  • Nurture your need to connect – Rest is active, restorative, and relational. Find the people you naturally connected to, and you will find an endless source of social rest.

Sensory Rest

  • Unplug – Too much external stimulation clogs up your life and slows down the flow of rest in your body. Try setting a time each day when you completely disconnect from technology.
  • Test your sensory response – Taste, see, feel, smell, and listen with the liberty to add or subtract from the sensory inputs in your life.
  • Identify and target – Identify one sensory stressor regularly encountered in your life, and work to undo the effect of that specific constant stimulation.

Creative Rest

  • Build sabbaticals into your life – Learn to slip in and out of periods of restfulness in the mist of great productivity.
  • Practice flow-break rhythm – Practice developing a flow of optimal performance for ninety minutes to two hours, followed by twenty minutes of a scheduled rest break.
  • Work with your body clock – Adjust your schedule one day this week to incorporate your must-do activities during the times when your body is wired to respond optimally.

Part of a regular series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

During my elementary school years one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of “My Weekly Reader,” a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.

It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.

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