This post is so perfect for this week, because this is exactly where I am. I am out, Lord willing, resting in God’s creation, backpacking, and enjoying time with my siblings, learning to rest without cycling through the millions of things I have to do. I’m relearning how to relax, laugh, and eat lots of trail mix and instant oatmeal. YUM.
Of course it won’t look this fancy, because I won’t have a refrigerator, but we’ll make do . . . Food is fuel. I like food.
Yet, there probably won’t be any of this, because toting a freezer along with you while backpacking would = very heavy and unpleasant. That’s okay, though, ’cause I’ll just enjoy other food instead. God is good. All the time, and that doesn’t depend on whether I have icecream or not. Ice cream is just a plus. <3
Jess from ‘Fuel for Freedom’ agreed to share her experience with learning to rest in recovery . Honestly, this was and still is hard for me. It’s hard for me to plant myself on a couch, lay down and take a nap even when my eyelids are falling down of their own accord, and just rest.
Yet, God made our bodies to NEED rest, so that’s why I wanted to Jess to talk to you about this very thing. . . After you read it, go get a bowl of ice cream or nicecream or Rice Dream or Almond or… (you get the idea 😉 and rest with your journal, Bible, a good book, or just a few Zzzzss. 🙂
How to Rest in Recovery: By Jess!
Isn’t Jess beautiful? 🙂
Resting in Recovery
When I was five, I thought I had thought of the best job ever.
You wouldn’t have to get dressed up. You wouldn’t have to take a shower. You wouldn’t even have to leave your bed. What was this miracle job? (Okay, keep in mind, this was BEFORE there were a lot of jobs you could do online from your laptop.)
A mattress tester.
I know, I know, every five year old has probably thought of the glorious job of getting paid to sleep. At the time though, I thought it was a revolutionary idea.
I love to sleep. Shocker, right?
I’m not talking about the process of falling asleep. Between getting all your stuff ready for the next day and brushing your teeth, that can take forever. I’m not talking about those times when you wake up in the middle of the night, either from noisy roommates (I’m talking to you, baseball players who live above me) or from the thoughts spinning in your head that won’t leave you alone.
I’m talking about when you finally shut your eyes, shut off your mind, and simply exist.
That being said, there are days when I sleep those full eight hours and still not feel rested.
You know what I’m talking about. When you wake up the next day—expecting to be refreshed and revitalized—but feel… off. You snap when someone says good morning. You sigh as you wait in a long lunch line. You finish five work assignments, only to see the ten you still have to do.
Society makes us feel like we have to go,go,go 24/7. If we’re not doing something productive at all moments of the day, we’re lazy. We’re a failure.
This pressure to constantly do more, be more can be maddening, especially if you tend to be a bit of a perfectionist like me. We never feel good enough.
My eating disorder might have taken away my weight and healthy mindset toward food, but the most precious thing it robbed from me was the ability to rest.
Everything I did happened in a haze. I couldn’t enjoy a dinner with friends because I was worrying about what my calorie counter would read when I plugged in the meal later. I couldn’t enjoy a workout because I was too busy worrying whether I would be able to fit in my exercise regimen tomorrow. I would sit down with a book and reread the same page at least twelve times, too busy fretting about an assignment due next week. And don’t even mention the fact that I would constantly wake up at night, anxiety racing through my mind.
Enjoyment of the present moment was gone. More often than not, I was worrying about what I thought I should be doing, not what I was doing.
The weight gain and mental hurdles that came with recovery were hard. Looking at food and ignoring the calorie content was hard. Admitting to myself that I had a disorder was hard.
Learning how to relax again was a hundred times harder.
As I recovered, sleeping at night became easier. But sleep does not equal rest. I was still anxious, still addicted to the belief that I constantly had to be doing something, anything.
What we need to realize is that being happy and healthy is more than getting all of your to-do list done.
Let’s face it. We’re a culture that likes immediate results. We know if we complete one more assignment, we’ll get good grades. We know if we eek out an extra rep or run an extra mile, we’ll be physically stronger.
None of that matters. That still pains me to realize, but it’s true.
When you’re lying on your deathbed, you aren’t going to care about your squat PR or how you stayed overtime at work every single day. You’re going to care about the relationships you fostered and the people you loved. You’re going to think about all those moments when you simply embraced everything around you and didn’t worry about anything else.
My “aha” moment came when I started attending Bible study at school. No matter how many assignments I thought I simply had to get done or how many chores I had on my to-do list, I locked away those worries for an hour on Wednesday nights. I sat down with some scripture, some great professors and peers, and soaked it all in.
Just that one hour a week did wonders. I would return my dorm, completely refreshed.
Nothing else had changed about my day. The homework assignments hadn’t vanished. Those emails from my professors still needed replied to.
What had changed is that I allowed myself to breathe. To accept that I didn’t constantly have to be doing something. To allow myself to truly be there with others, both physically and mentally. This spiritual and emotional rest made physical rest easier. Suddenly, I could accept having rest days from the gym or not need to go “all-out” every workout.
Even if it’s once a week, find something that you do for YOUR body’s needs. Not because it will help you get ahead in your career or boost your grades or burn calories. Do it just for you.
Your “rest” might be Bible study or gentle yoga. It might be a walk around the park or a chat over the phone with your great-aunt. It might be a movie at home on a Friday night or a book read while lying next to the fireplace.
Whatever you choose, it should be something that doesn’t have a goal. Rest comes when you don’t feel the need to compete, whether with others or yourself. It should be something that allows you to take a step back from everything else.
When you’re truly conscious of what you’re doing, feeling enjoyment and satisfaction with yourself is infinitely easier. Once the stress we pile on ourselves every day is alleviated—even for a second—you can finally see and appreciate the hard work you’ve already accomplished.
Getting your eight hours of sleep a night is all well and good, but don’t forget rest also needs to come when you’re awake. It’s okay that you didn’t check off anything from your to-do list because you were out with your family. It’s okay you didn’t go to the gym because, hey, you plain didn’t feel like it. It’s okay that you didn’t start that essay due next month because the novel you were reading was too good to put down.
Don’t feel guilty for relaxing. We all need it. I promise having even a few moments of relaxation will actually make you feel happier and more productive.
Even God rested on the seventh day. He didn’t feel the need to put another sun in the sky or piece together another animal. He simply kicked up His feet and saw everything He had done as good.
The way I figure it, if the Maker of the Universe can rest, than I sure as better start prioritizing it in my own life!
Are you good at resting?
How do you mentally slow yourself down and rest?
Do you think Americans are good at resting?