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Getting the mental and emotional rest you need to flourish

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Normally when we think of rest, we think of physical rest. Or we think of zoning out in front of Netflix with a yummy snack. But what if the rest we seek is not the rest we need? Finding appropriate rest will help you implement sustainable practices for greater resilience. Today we’ll explore two types of rest.

Mental Rest

Do you ever find that after you’ve arrived home from a hard day’s work, perhaps having a meal, possibly connecting with your family or friends, your mind still thinks you’re at work? Your mind is racing, thinking of all the unfinished to-dos on your list or the conversations you need to have tomorrow. You’ve tried to shut off mentally, but your brain can’t settle down. You need mental rest.

How to access mental rest

Pre-pandemic, we all had rituals. We’d go to a physical workplace, and work happened at work. At the end of the day, we’d shut off the computer, lock the door and drive home. Once we arrived, we’d change out of our work clothes and into our home clothes. We exercised, did yard work, made dinner, or helped our kids with homework.

Today’s work environment has changed, and whether you work in a church office, an onsite situation or work from home, creating an end-of-day routine can help you physically and mentally transition from work to home. The first thing to do is turn off notifications or park your phone in a charger behind closed doors whenever possible.

If you find your brain continues returning to work, spend a few minutes in mindfulness practice. Find a quiet place, perhaps the chair where you have your morning devotionals or a tranquil outdoor space. Close your eyes and recite a favourite Scripture that reminds you of God’s provision. Repeat it softly several times, sinking deeply into it. Notice how you feel as you put your trust in God. Hold that feeling, sit with it and consciously experience the newfound emotion. Then, as you return to the rest of your day, repeat the Scripture whenever you find your mind racing and remember that wonderful feeling of trust.

Emotional Rest

The world has become increasingly emotionally complex. Whether your leadership happens in a board room, a clinic, a classroom or a church, it is essential to care for your emotional landscape.

Have you ever left work and intentionally chose to physically rest by taking a nap, skipping your exercise routine, or taking a couple of hours to enjoy a book but came away feeling drained? You may need emotional rest, and no amount of physical rest can fill your emotional tank.

If you work an emotionally draining job in a helping profession – therapy, healthcare, clergy – your emotional reserves become depleted regularly. You may think you’re fine until your child, friend or neighbour does one little thing, and it irritates you, you get angry, or you just want to cry. These are symptoms of emotional depletion.

How to access emotional rest

The world is filled with emotionally-charged events. Music is meant to tug on your heartstrings, swallow you with sadness or push you to euphoria. Movies switch from scenes that make you laugh, cry and scream with fright, all within a short period of time. And the news, in whatever fashion you consume it, has become less journalistic and more shocking. Unfortunately, these things tax your emotional reserves, leaving little energy for your most important relationships.

Intentionally choose uplifting music, inspiring movies, healthy books, and media sources that bring life. You only have so much emotional energy, and when you’re not giving it to your few most critical areas, your focus must be on refilling and reenergizing.\

Philippians 4 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” These are challenging times. Make sure to continually fill your emotional tank so that when you give, you give from abundance.

Wherever you find yourself today, give yourself the gift of rest. Doing so will help you not only survive but thrive.

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