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When Resting Feels Lazy

We’ve just wrapped up summer, September is here, and kids are back in school. This time of year feels like a freight train picking up speed as we start hurtling toward the holiday season. As the pace picks up, finding time to rest only gets harder. When we do find some time, we feel lazy and unproductive since there is so much still to do on our to-do lists.

Am I the only one who feels that way?

When Resting Feels Lazy by Marta Goertzen


My Journey to Becoming a Workaholic

Learning to rest and not feel guilty about it has been (and is) hard for me.

Growing up, I couldn’t sit still. I was a mover and a shaker, and it was hard to keep me entertained for any length of time.

  • As a toddler, I would climb out of my highchair and OVER the tray.
  • During a church service, I would have a small pile of activities to occupy me.
  • To my Mom’s great delight, I stopped taking naps at the age of two. Yeah, she was thrilled.

As I got older I found ways to move while staying seated in one spot. Fun things like bouncing my leg, tapping a pencil, or folding up a napkin as small as I could, unfolding and starting over again until it dissolved in my hand.

Amazingly there were two ways that you could keep me still. My favorite movie, Star Wars, or getting lost in a good book. As an avid reader, that wasn’t too hard. Once I got into a new book, you probably would find me hours later still engrossed. That was my version of resting, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. Oh, the joys of being a kid without the responsibilities of an adult.

In college, things started to change. To get myself through school, I took an extra heavy credit load each semester and worked 2-3 jobs part-time jobs to pay the bills. That was the start of my workaholic lifestyle, and it only grew from there.

That brings us to today. These days when I sit down and watch a movie, I have to be doing something else too. Like sorting through paperwork, getting my accounting up-to-date, pulling out a knitting project. (Actually, I learned how to knit so I could sit and create something new that didn’t involve a keyboard!).

Even in movie theaters, I pity the person sitting next to me as I am constantly shifting, moving, crossing, and re-crossing my legs. It is best to give me a bucket of popcorn and a drink to give me something to do.

3 Types of Rest

Learning to rest has been an interesting journey. Rest, it sounds so simple, but for me, it never has been. What I’ve learned is that there are different types of rest: active rest, passive rest, and sleep.

Rest Type #1 – Sleep:
I’m a night owl, I am usually up too late, which has turned out okay for this season. I struggle with insomnia so going to bed later has helped, I go to bed tired and have had a lot less trouble getting to sleep. But this does mean many nights I don’t get quite enough.

Rest Type #2 – Active Rest:
This summer, I’ve been giving myself permission to work on projects and try out new skills (and power tools!) that I’ve always wanted to try. Refinishing furniture, furniture building, creating home decor out of wood. I. Love. It. It is a type of creativity that brings me so much joy.

Other times it’s tackling a project out in the yard like gardening or mowing the lawn. The sense of accomplishment, and just being outdoors, is what I often need.

With my chronic pain, I have to be very careful with how hard and long I work at these projects. Being outside, creating with my hands, listening to a great audiobook or podcast, and being off my computer is restorative. This is my version of active rest.

Rest Type #3 – Passive Rest:
When pain flares up, or it’s just time to slow down, complete rest is what I need. That may be sitting in a comfy chair to read or write, it may be sitting out in the yard on a lovely summer day with the dogs around me, or it may be watching a favorite movie. On these days physical exertion is at a minimum.

Molly the Dog Resting on the Couch
My ultimate example of passive rest. My friend Molly!

Learning To Rest

My word of the year is Cultivate, and habit of resting on purpose is one of the habits I’m trying to cultivate.

Learning to rest has required an adjustment in the expectations I place on myself and a change in how I think rest should look and feel like.

If I hope to find rest or I’m looking for a time to rest it rarely happens. It has taken purposeful effort and scheduling to make time for rest.

If you would like to cultivate a habit of rest, here are a few things to consider.

Give yourself grace. To-do lists will always too long. If you don’t finish it all today, guess what, it’s okay! Give yourself a break. Chances are you are placing more pressure on yourself than anyone else is.

Get Outside More. Morning walks with my dogs is the most important thing I can do for myself, for them, and those around me. There are amazing physical, emotional, and mental benefits to spending time outdoors.

Pursue a hobby. Give yourself permission to write, knit, crochet, scrapbook, or garden. Find something you have always wanted to try and go for it.

Make Time to Be Social. Yeah, I’m terrible at this one! Spending face-to-face time with people instead of just through texts or social media makes a huge difference.

Learn About Sabbath. More than anything else on this list, learning about Sabbath has helped me understand what rest is. I’m learning the difference between physical rest and True Rest that comes from God.

Resting is NOT lazy

It turns out resting is essential to your well being. The more I read about stress, adrenals, hormones, sleep, and spiritual growth, the more I see a needed emphasis on rest and recovery, and less about the glorification of busy.

The way you rest is most likely going to look and feel different from everyone else. It will take time to figure out what works best for you. And let’s face it, some days – it just ain’t gonna happen. Learning to give yourself grace in that moment is a form of rest too.

How will you choose to rest this week AND not feel guilty about it?

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