“I’m so tired!”
How often have we heard (or said) that comment? The pandemic has resulted in hearing it even more often as people struggle with the aftermath of the virus or dealing with all the ways life has changed for them. The list of adjustments and changes in our lives over the past two years seems to be endless and has no definite end in sight. We were easy prey for feeling tired because of the fast-paced lives we were already living, but when did that all start?
Some might wonder if it began long before adult responsibilities, hobbies, ministries and more. Childhood used to have more time spent at home playing and learning adult tasks, creating our own games with some half hour family-friendly TV shows for the whole family in the evening. Over time as people’s education and jobs changed and we left the more rural lifestyle that even existed in many suburbs, activities of all sorts were added as options for our children and now people had incomes to afford them. That added carpooling to church youth activities, soccer, band, choir, dance, and a long list of other things not only to use up time outside of school for the children, but also to add to the demands on parents who were trying to accommodate all that while juggling their own work schedules.
I am not suggesting one is bad and one is good, but they are different and instead of an average 10-year-old lounging reading a comic book after chores and schoolwork they have learned early the fast-paced life that a better economic income level allows many families. When do they participate in more restful periods for creative thinking, dreaming, or visioning when they are “plugged in” to one device or another when not on the go?
“Most of the day we simply plow through a myriad of diverse tasks, checking boxes, ‘getting things done.’ It frazzles the soul, so we look to all our “comforters” to calm us down. But I know my salvation is not in a frappuccino nor the fudge.”John Eldredge
We have come a long way from taking a Sunday afternoon drive to visit someone for an hour or two on the front porch sipping lemonade and drinking iced tea.
Some of these very things gave us a sense of rest and when we were tired it was more often from hard physical work instead of simply being on the go with a plethora of things we need to do and activities we are committed to do.
Sometimes the busyness cannot be helped or reduced much, but far too often it doesn’t stop once the crisis or season we are in has passed. Deciding to make rest a priority again will be difficult for many of us. We know because we have tried it and “busy creep” overtook us again.
“People-pleasing, workaholic go-getters don’t excel at rest without an internal battle. Rest requires submission of the soul, and the soul wants what the soul wants. It fights back against rest by holding up all the pretty fruit busyness is producing. It never gives you time to cut inside that same fruit to see the rot and decay at the core, decay that will inevitably surface when you’re ready to take a bite into the busy life you’ve created.”
Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
The first step to improving our odds in the battle for rest and a life we are able to enjoy to the fullest is to consider what kind of tired we are and what type of rest will replenish it.
“Your body needs physical. mental, emotional, spiritual, social, sensory, and creative rest. Omit any one of these, and you will feel the consequences of the resulting rest deficit.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
Since most of us are not doing the hard physical work of farming and similar daily tasks, how do we know if it is physical rest we most need if we are not ill or recovering from illness or not adjusting to an aging body?
Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD, identifies these things that suggest you might be suffering from a physical rest deficit:
- Lack of energy required to do all the physical tasks on your “to do” list
- Feeling tired but having difficulty falling asleep
- A weak immune system with frequent colds and illnesses
- Frequent muscle pain and soreness
- Dependence on substances like caffeine, energy bars, and sugar to give you more energy
- Possible dependence on substances like alcohol, pills, or comfort foods to give you more rest
Maybe the first step if any of these are us is to recognize what we have been and are still doing to our bodies day after day and recognize God designed our bodies to need rest to replenish brain cells, get rid of toxic waste, repair cells and restore energy that releases hormones and proteins, help nerve cells communicate and reorganize.
Many of us (maybe most of us) have learned to tune out the signals our bodies were designed to give us to let us know we need to rest. So, the first ‘not so easy step’ will be to learn to listen to our bodies again and learn what it means to take a healthy time-out. I say it’s hard because I have had to try to as well (even in retirement). I have had many seasons where I was pushing to reach a specific good goal or be productive and habits adopted during those times didn’t go away afterward.
One example was when I was teaching full-time in mid-life, involved with some ministry activities, while being a mother of two, a wife, daughter, friend, and more and chose to enter graduate school at the same time when I sensed God calling me to change directions in my professional life. That period lasted 4 years and the habits took twice that long to recognize they were still resulting in decisions to keep my calendar overly full.
“Whether you are a prayer warrior, love warrior, hope warrior, peace warrior, or a just-trying-to-make-it-through-the- day warrior, all warriors must know what weapons they have at their disposal. Rest is a time-tested weapon that can help you be victorious in battle.
Life is not all about the doing; it’s about the being. the seeing, the knowing, and the experiencing.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD