No one had to teach me how to rest. In fact, I could be a professional relaxer (if you happen to hear of any opportunities in this field, please hook a sister up). I’m a beach aficionado and I thrive on Saturday mornings with no alarm and no schedule, just the people, places, and things that fill me up. If only the entire week was made up of Saturdays and Sundays… But there are five other days, and they consist of nearly the exact opposite happenings—work, hustle, errands, lists, spreadsheets, computer screens, phone calls. Are you feeling tired yet?
I’m new to the full-time workforce. This will be my first year ever without a summer break (shed a tear for me). While transitioning from free time to full-time, I’m feeling pretty exhausted by the end of the work day. Even when my body finally reaches blissful stillness on the couch, the hamster in my brain is oftentimes still running its wheel, and it becomes irritatingly squeaky.
Resting our bodies is essential and shut-eye can naturally quiet our minds, but what if we could just have a little more peace during the day? So much so that at the end of the work day we have the ability to love ourselves and others properly, regardless of our crazy day. Peace and rest should not be confined to beds and living rooms after 5 p.m.; they should inhabit our spirit. A mind that finds treasured ease and steadiness functions—thrives, rather—in all the positions it has been purposefully placed in and has mental energy to put toward the people and things they value most, even when fresh mascara seems to morph into ten pound weights on our eyelids.
Even when my body finally reaches blissful stillness on the couch, the hamster in my brain is oftentimes still running its wheel, and it becomes irritatingly squeaky.
Though we can’t change our circumstances or the nature of our jobs, I have found a few, simple practices that bring mental rest even on the most draining of days—the kind that calls for a TV binge and eating out (even though I took the chicken out of the freezer this morning). When I implement these small tweaks to my day, I find that the hustle can be embraced—and even enjoyed—and the 8 to 5 daily grind can end in arriving at home with enough energy to enjoy life-giving, restorative activities with husband and/or friends.
1. Wake up just a little bit earlier. This is coming from a lover of sleep and anti-morning person. On the mornings that I do wake up ten minutes earlier to shower, I feel so much more awake before the espresso even gets scooped out of the tin. Plus, makeup feels so much better on refreshed skin and your hair could still be intact for night-time outings.
2. Seize your commute. Using silent times of getting ready, driving, waiting to clock in, and driving home wisely adds value to our minds. Listen to music, read an inspirational article, reflect on what matters most and what you are thankful for. This sets the tone for the day and gives us something fresh and good to hold onto during the hard moments.
3. Stop between tasks. Even if you can only grab 60 seconds, clean up your workspace before moving on to the next thing. Take some time to look away from the screens and lists. Eat a snack and drink some water. Look at the photos of the ones you love—print some if you don’t have any! Regroup your swirling thoughts and…
4. Write it out. In the back of your notebook or planner, write down your thoughts in order to get them out of your head. The release of your feelings, troubles, and even successes onto paper can make room for some refreshment. In time, it also becomes easier to understand yourself and what you need in trying moments.
5. Eat lunch out of your office. If at all possible, get out of your office and go outside (I eat lunch in my car if that’s my only option). Nourishing food changes the way I work during the typical post-lunch blues (is it 5 yet?). The time I take to ponder on anything NOT work related tends to realign my mind and creates mental rest in that short hour. Extra: packing your lunch or snacks frees up time, money, and usually calories!
If nothing else, find rest in these truths:
-You can add beauty and value to your work place, no matter your career or position, simply because you are you.
–You have a beautiful purpose, even if you can’t see it. We can trust (which is really a form of mental rest) that we will produce something amazing in our labor, or our labor will produce something amazing in us.
-You may not like your job sometimes, but at all times you can appreciate it. I don’t want to pull the “there are starving kids in Africa” card but… It’s happening. The fact that we can work to provide or be provided for is always something to be thankful for because, frankly, having a job is not nearly everyone’s reality.
-The big picture matters… And so does the little one. The often annoying, mundane details are necessary to make the big picture happen. So find a big-picture-perspective of why you’re working your job and embrace all of the little pictures along the way, knowing that they are the required steps that lead to the end goal.
Work doesn’t have to be all grit… So why not try applying a little bit of grace along the way and see what happens?