According to the dictionary rest means to cease work or movement in order to relax or recover strength/energy. However, I think rest is so much more than this and although it seems contradictory, rest does not always have to involve inactivity. It can simply mean doing things in a different way.
Recently I have committed to living more mindfully. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. It is about being fully present in the here and now, and concentrating on what is happening moment-by-moment allows our minds to refocus away from the busyness of life and feel calmer. I also feel more alive than ever before and can deal with challenging life circumstances far better.
And the great thing is anything can be done mindfully. Read on for some ideas.
1. Get Creative
I love colouring in. There has definitely been a craze for this in the last couple of years and I can see why. An activity that doesn’t need much thought beyond ‘what colour pen shall I use?’ is a great buffer for the many complex tasks we often try to complete in a day. To get a fuller experience I try to really notice the different shades as I put pen to paper, I use a variety of hand movements to create a variety of patterns, and I frequently sit back and contemplate my handiwork.
However, there are many other ways to be creative. Why not paint a picture, take some photos, write a poem or play some music? I’m sure you can think of all sorts of creative pursuits. I’d love to hear about them.
2. Rest Actively
Sometimes simply getting away from the normal humdrum (or chaos!) of life and doing something different can be restful.
I frequently enjoy a strenuous mountain trek, feeling the wind in my hair and blowing away the cobwebs. It takes me away from other life activities and while not physically restful it certainly restores my soul and refreshes my mind. Often the next day my body also begins to relax.
You don’t have to walk up mountains to get this kind of rest however. Just find something physically active that you are able to do – it could be a slow stroll down the road or some arm stretches from your chair. As long as it’s different from other things in your life and you become totally absorbed in it you will reap the benefits.
3. Immerse Yourself in Nature
It is well known that being in nature is good for our wellbeing. Only this morning I was lying in bed listening to birdsong and it lifted my spirits. I was able to rest amid the pleasant twittering of the dawn chorus and it made me feel positive about the coming day.
Why not try walking to a peaceful place by running water? Sit down a while and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world. Allow your senses to absorb your surroundings. Stop and rest a moment. Breathe. Slow down and you’ll notice so much more.
What are you going to do this week to get some proper rest?