Every weekday around 11 a.m., I take my class out for a few minutes of recess. Most days, as a class, they play tag. The other day I watched as a girl (let’s call her Sally) chased a boy (let’s call him Johnny) to “tag” him. While she was closing the gap between them, Johnny called out, “timeout!” and Sally backed off. He needed a break. She respected the rules of timeout enough to let him have it.
It got me thinking about times in my life when I wish I could just call, “timeout!” and watch as everything that is pursuing me backs off… gives me a break… and lets me catch my breath.
In Johnny’s case, all he needed was a minute or two to catch his breath before he called “time-in!” and was back in the game, better than ever. As I think about the times in my life when I have a chance to catch my breath—the weekend, a holiday Monday off, a night free of commitments or plans—I wonder if I’m doing things that will truly give me rest, or if I’m wasting timeouts I am given with things that will not help me to play any better once I am back in the game.
Not to say the following lists are universal, but they are some things that are true of me and could be true of you in your pursuit of work and life balance. Or, perhaps they’re a starting point, leading you to think about what truly brings rest for your soul when you have time to take a break.
Some things that I do on my timeouts that do not help me feel rested and recharged:
*Scrolling through social media
*Sleeping because I am bored
*Scrolling through Pinterest
*Online shopping (not good for my wallet, either!)
Some things I can do during break times that help me feel rested and recharged:
*Going for a walk. When walking around my neighborhood, I find a combination of three things—a little exercise, fresh air, and just being able to observe that there is life going on around me. This mixture reminds me that it’s not all about me, and that is always refreshing for my spirit.
*Talking through things that are burdening me to friends. (This can be face to face, on the phone, or on FaceTime). Talking through both the exciting, challenging, or even mundane days of life with a trusted friend or family member can be so life-giving. Hearing about someone else’s life can help remind me that I’m not alone in whatever I am facing.
*Baking or cooking. Using a new recipe I’ve found focuses my mind on something other than my job or whatever is stressful in my life. I assume that unless I am sprawled out on the couch, I am not resting. In reality, I feel rested when my mind is off of the thing that is causing it unrest. Finding a quick recipe for a meal or dessert can help clear my brain.
*Listening to a sermon or podcast. Timothy Keller has some amazing sermons on the podcast, Timothy Keller Sermons Podcast by Gospel in Life. Actively listening and even taking notes on a good sermon can be refreshing and encouraging to a weary soul. Try sitting and listening to the lighter, but still so encouraging, Made For This podcast hosted by Jennie Allen (Founder of IF:Gathering) or Bob Goff’s (author of Love Does) Dream Big podcast.
*Working on a creative project or hobby. “I never have time to (fill in the blank)!” I say this about many things: painting, reading, riding my bike, sending a card… the list goes on. The truth is, I do have time! Doing things that I love fills my soul in ways that indulging in my laziness does not.
*Reading a book. Whether you enjoy reading fiction, biographies, or something else, engaging your mind in reading a good book can help you find mental rest from the constant feed of entertainment we get through our phones, TV, and radio. Recently, I’ve found that going back to reading old novels I read as a middle or high schooler helps me rest; these are books that aren’t necessarily difficult to read but engage my imagination in a way that I don’t do very often anymore. Listening to audiobooks has the same effect if I need to rest my eyes as well.
Try these ideas for finding rest—even in the busyness of everyday life. Doing things that you love fills your soul in ways that indulging in laziness does not.
*Sleeping when sleep is what’s actually needed. I am not a wife or a mama, so I know that I have it easier than most, but sometimes, if possible, a quick nap or going to bed early can do wonders for a tired body and mind. Try these 3 simple secrets for a great night’s sleep.
*Listening to music. Whether it’s finding a new band or trying a new genre, listening to music can be so relaxing! Lay down and listen to the words being sung instead of listening to it on-the-go in the car or in the background.
*Journaling. This is one of the purest things I have found to be refreshing to my soul. Journaling allows the thoughts bottled up in my mind to be released—not necessarily lost and forgotten—just released. Try to set a timer for 10 minutes and don’t stop writing until the timer goes off. You might be surprised by what you write.
*Reading God’s Word. This should be the go-to and yet it is so easy to skip first. After all, Jesus tells us so clearly in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” God’s Word brings life to our souls if only we open our Bibles to let it.
Making the most of the time I have to pause and rest can be so beneficial, and sometimes, it’s just becoming aware of my wasted time that can make all the difference. I encourage you to take time to reflect, recharge, and regain control over the “timeouts” in your life.
Want to recalibrate your life? You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: Is Your Life Out of Balance? – 011