How does your soul rest best?

I first came across this beautiful question from Nigel Langford, a church leader who was speaking at a women’s leadership conference a little while ago, and given the week a lot of us have had with the EU Referendum in the UK, it seemed an apt topic.

How does my soul rest best? Here are 3 things I’ve noticed:

My soul rests when I know why I’m resting

“How do I find time to recharge, when life outside of work was just as busy as life at work?” a conference delegate asked me on Friday, after a session on emotional resilience highlighted the need to have recharge time. As I shared some insights and strategies with her, I realised it’s not so much a question of how we find time, but why don’t we?

So often we say we don’t have time, when let’s face it, there are plenty of things we do find time for. We just don’t have spare time after everything else. The truth is that we often see recharging as something we ‘should’ do in an ideal world, rather than an essential in our world.

Let me compare it to washing my car. I know I should wash my car more often, and it makes me smile when I see my car all clean and sparkly, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that much to me whether my car is clean or dirty. I just don’t value a clean car all that highly. So in my world my car gets washed whenever my husband and daughter fancy some bonding time outside and there’s no gardening to be done.

On the other hand, putting fuel in my car is something I always do. Yes, sometimes I do let it run a little close to the line, but never to the point where it’s completely empty – and I never want to go there either.

If I think of recharging as a luxury, my soul won’t rest as long as there are other things to be done (and there are always other things to be done). Guilt stops my soul from resting. On the other hand, if I see recharging as fuel – it becomes the very thing that enables me to fulfil my other commitments. Rest becomes a mandate, not a guilty pleasure.

Which is it for you: luxury or fuel?

My soul rests when I know what to do

Part of the problem is we don’t give recharging anywhere near as much thought as we do our work. At work, we prepare, we plan, we brainstorm, decide, evaluate and review. We think about our goals and our values and commit our actions accordingly. By the time we get home, our brain is usually suffering from decision fatigue, and we can’t think much beyond the dishes, the kids and the TV.

We all recharge differently – what is it that you enjoy doing so much it gives you energy? If it’s not something you’ve given much thought to, start by noticing tiny moments of joy in each day, and capture it on a ‘pick me up’ playlist. You can then use this playlist as a selection to choose from when your brain is too fried to come up with ideas, as well as a prompt to plan your next deliberate recharge time – book in that yoga class, theatre trip, bike ride, night out or night in. Whatever it is that will help you to recharge, make it a date with yourself.

My soul rests when I make peace with what’s not yet done

Another note I made from Nigel’s talk was this: Rest is not the absence of labour but the presence of peace.

My soul finds rest not as much in the what, as in how I do it. The conference delegate I was chatting to last week said that she really enjoys reading with her kids at bedtime – as long as she’s not rushing or wrestling them into bed. In the right conditions, it’s not yet another job, but something that fills her with joy.

I can find rest in quiet moments and hearty laughter, in solitude and friendship, in conversations, music, cooking, hugs, in motion and in stillness. But I can easily be doing any or all of those things and not be at rest. In fact the moment I start thinking of something else I could or should be doing, I become restless.

My soul finds rest when I accept what is, right here, right now, and make peace with what’s not yet done, worked out or wrestled with. Yes I may be going back into battle tomorrow, but if I can be at peace with this moment, that’s when I can rest and recharge.

How about you? How does your soul rest best?

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