Just the other day I found myself rushing around the house gathering what I need for the day and running through my mental checklist. Purse? ☑ Gym bag? ☑ Work bag? ☑ Coffee? ☑ Water bottle? ☑ Lunch? ☑ (Is this list ever going to end? ▢) Keys?…keys? At this point my mind feels like it’s going in a million directions as I’m thinking about how
- I’m running late
- I’m annoyed with myself for running late
- I have too many bags in my hands
- I have a full schedule today
- I can’t find my keys
- I’m frustrated that I can’t find my keys
In the corner of my eye I notice my husband patiently holding the front door open for me. With a mix of desperation and frustration I say, “I can’t find my keys!” He looks at me puzzled and calmly replies, “They are in your hand.”
We’ve all had days when we felt like this– hurried, stressed, and frazzled. During these times it feels like life is spiraling out of control, and our natural inclination is to try to move faster, push harder, and do more. However, the shortest path to regaining a sense of control is quite the opposite. It’s to slow down, let go, and take a break. When we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, we tend to resist these things, but it’s important to recognize that the resistance to slowing down is actually counterproductive.
Why You Should Take a Break
Stress has a physiological effect on our brains that inhibits the way we think. It impedes our ability to plan or make decisions, influences us to react without thinking instead of responding thoughtfully, and weakens our bodies.
This is why we may end up feeling exhausted while not ever accomplishing anything, or we catch ourselves saying things in the heat of the moment that we don’t really mean.
On the other hand, when we allow ourselves a moment to calm down, we find that our minds are more clear, our focus is better, and we are able to be more productive. We end the day feeling rested AND accomplished, as well as overall satisfied in how we conducted ourselves in relationships.
So while moving faster, pushing harder, and doing more seems like what is needed to help us catch back up and gain control of our lives again- it may actually set us back even further.
Benefits of Rest and Relaxation
- Increased focus and clarity of thought
- Increased creativity and productivity
- Improved decision making
- Improved memory
- Improved mood
- Decreased stress, worry, anxiety
- Increased energy
- Better physical and mental health
- Improved relationships
Try It Out For Yourself
I’m usually reluctant to take breaks because I worry that it will waste time and put me farther behind in my to-dos. BUT, I’ve learned from experience (and science) that when I allow myself to take a break- to relax and enjoy a moment, I gain better clarity and focus, and set myself up for success in my relationships, career, health, and to-do list.
I want the same for you too.
I encourage you to try this out for yourself. Do one thing today that brings you rest and helps you relax. In case you have trouble coming up with something, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Go for a walk and observe the sights and sounds around you
- Practice mindfulness of the moment
- Engage in relaxation exercises
- Get a massage
- Meet a friend for coffee
- Eat a snack
- Read a book that you enjoy
- Take a nap
- Practice yoga
- Engage in a sport or hobby
Self-care is not selfish, it’s smart.
Take the time to care for yourself through rest and relaxation. It’s essential in helping you become the best version of yourself you can be and allows you to share your best with the ones you love the most.
Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax. – Mark Black
If you have no time to rest, it’s exactly the right time. – Mark Twain
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – Isaiah 26:3
Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges, so relax. – Bryant McGill
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7