Everywhere I looked these days I am seeing people who are exhausted. People are running from one thing to another and they are tired. People are living with no rhythm of rest in their life!
When we are depleted, we become overly reliant on voices outside of ourselves to tell us what is going on. We react to symptoms rather than seeking to understand and respond to underlying causes.
Here’s the sad truth in all of us this:
“Sadly, the need for recovery is often viewed as evidence of weakness rather than an integral aspect of sustained performance. The result is that we give almost no attention to renewing and expanding our energy reserves.” Jim Loehr The Power of Full Engagement.
I felt this way when I went on my medical leave in 2007. I felt weak because I needed to take a break. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing.
The rhythms of work and rest
The rhythms of work and rest are fundamental to our well-being. Jim Loehr in his book The Power of Full Engagement notes that,
“alternating periods of activity with periods of rest has been a means of maximizing performance among athletes since Flavius Philostratus wrote training manuals for Greek athletes in AD 170-245.”
Balancing stress and recovery is the key to managing energy not only for competitive athletes but also for all of us. I have heard that cultures that encourage people to seek intermittent renewal not only inspire greater commitment but also greater productivity.
3 ways to live out the rhythms of work and rest:
Here are a few ways that I am learning to live out the rhythms of work and rest in my life.
1. Take a Sabbath once a week.
Taking a Sabbath is very different from taking a day off. A day off is simply time off from our regular duties at our jobs. A Sabbath is a day of stopping, resting, delighting and contemplating.
We have to plan ahead if we actually want a day where we can do this because if we don’t it will never happen! Believe me I know from personal experience!
2. Schedule life around breaks instead of breaks around life.
Life is always going to have more things to do than can be accomplished in 24 hours. That is reality. If we don’t schedule life around self-care and breaks, they are NOT going to happen!
3. Take longer breaks throughout the year.
Not only do we need to stop once a week and take a break we also need to be taking longer breaks throughout the year. I am blessed to be able to take 4 weeks off a year. I try to take a 2 week break in the summer and then a one week break in the Fall and Spring. I have found this “rhythm” to be very helpful for me!
How do you live out the rhythms of work and rest?
***** This post was inspired by chapter 8 “Spiritual rhythms in the life of the leader” in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton.