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Rest

How often do you truly take care of yourself?

Dr. John Delony says that sleep is a secret weapon. Personally, I always saw it more as a waste of time, until my most recent vacation. My counselor told me I needed to go on vacation and rest. I really didn't see why because I do rest- I go out to eat, I shop, I go to work, I volunteer at church, etc. Those are all things I enjoy doing, so if I enjoy it, isn't that technically rest?

My friends and I are doing the 40 day Red Letter Challenge again. If you've never done it, I highly recommend. In the first week it talks about being - not doing. The author talks about ways of just being, and a topic he emphasizes is rest. I admitted to the group that it's not my strong suit, and even when I do try to "rest" the whole time I'm just thinking of what I should be doing instead. That's not restful, it's actually worse for me.

A few weeks ago I was feeling pretty depressed. I always get a little bit of winter sadness, but this felt worse than normal. Maybe it's because I've had so many heavy emotions build up, but I basically had no desire to do anything. Going to school, studying, going to work, or even getting up felt like a chore. I'd been running on empty.

Naps usually make my life feel a lot worse. I wake up feeling unproductive, like I've wasted so much time. So, when Dr. Delony says sleep is a secret weapon, I have to strongly disagree.

 

As I mentioned, a few weeks ago my family went on vacation. After landing in Orlando, we got in the sweet rental car and started driving to Melbourne, where we were staying. During the drive, my dad asked me if I had any specific plans for vacation. I said I might try to rest, but I'm already stressed about that because when I do rest, I know I should be doing something else that's on my to-do list. His response was that I'm not putting myself first. He told me "It's more important to take care of your mental health first." I tried to explain that my mental health isn't good if I don't get my list done, but he said the same thing, "you aren't putting yourself first."

Although I didn't exactly agree with him, I was exhausted from having just 3 hours of sleep and being filled with anxiety for weeks on end. When we got to the hotel room, I fell asleep. Waking up later on, I felt much worse. Maybe that's not what you were expecting, but it's true. On the way to dinner, I explained to my parents that I have felt so depressed. I thought just coming to Florida would solve it, being away from home and getting some vitamin D, but obviously it didn't right away. I felt really hopeless and empty, like it wasn't going to get better.

After getting back to the hotel room fairly early, after a fabulous dinner, I watched a little tv and soon I dozed off-much earlier than normal. The story doesn't get more entertaining, but more hopeful. I woke up at about 9:30-that's A LOT of sleep for me. I actually wanted to get up. I read, prayed, and even wrote down some ideas, I didn't feel depressed at all. I felt hopeful for the future (and maybe wiser). I actually rested. I'm not diminishing depression or anxiety, but I'm telling you because I need you to understand how important it is to take care of yourself.

 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of life, or in our own thoughts, that we completely neglect our mental health. We keep going because we have boxes to check off or work that needs to be done, but does that all matter if we aren't ok? Wouldn't it be better to rest, relax, and come back a healthier version of ourselves? A lot of times when we feel like our mental health is lacking we try to add more, we say we are going to go to the gym more frequently or spend more time doing x, and that isn't bad. Sometimes, though, when we are running on empty the real fix isn't to add more, it's to do less.

Take a break. Unplug. You're going to say you don't have time. Make time. You won't be able to continue like this. Take the day off. Buy the ticket. Take a vacation. Rest. The world can wait. And lastly, remember, @Dr.JohnDelony was right, sleep is a secret weapon.

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