There are some seasons of life when we move at a breakneck pace, more or less by our own choice. We take on too much, overcommit, overschedule, and overwhelm ourselves. In these cases, I’m a big advocate of saying no and paring back so we can seek the rest we need.
But there are other seasons of life when true, full rest is out of reach altogether, and there’s nothing we can really do about it except ride it out and remind ourselves that this is temporary, that this too shall pass. I find that many of these seasons come during major life transitions — moving, starting a new job, planning a wedding, or having a baby. These are such good things, but the sheer enormity of these changes and the adjustments that come along with them can drown us if we’re not careful.
I think the keys to surviving these seasons are to know they are temporary and to sneak in little moments of rejuvenation and self-care so we don’t totally lose our sanity before they pass. Here are some ideas for you if you find yourself stuck in a season of too much, too fast — when true rest is out of reach but you need some restoration all the same.
I don’t mean that you have to sit cross legged on your floor, channeling the Earth and connecting to your spirit. (You can do that if you want to, of course.) I do mean take ten seconds or ten minutes — whatever you can squeeze in — to turn off the noise, close your eyes, breathe deeply. Repeating a mantra can help you refocus on your purpose in this season, or it can be a means of seeking help outside yourself. I like to engage in a practice called breath prayer, in which I breathe in a characteristic of God and breathe out my request, over and over. When I was trying to get pregnant and my anxiety would creep up, I would close my eyes and inhale, Loving Father God, and exhale, Fill my womb.
2. Don’t write off a few minutes as just a few minutes.
When I have only five or ten minutes to grab some rest, I often feel tempted to think, It’s only 5 minutes; what’s the point? Then I end up scrolling my phone instead of doing something that could truly refresh me. In five minutes, you can meditate, read a few pages of a book, or snuggle your dog. Five minutes of self-care is better than no minutes of self-care, so even if it’s not ideal, snatch up every minute you can.
3. Try to always be in the middle of something.
This may seem counterintutive, but here’s what I mean: try to be in the middle of a great book, a funny movie, or an engaging TV series. I find that when I’m not in the middle of something, I tend to use precious free time doing things that don’t help me to relax. I’m much more likely to pick up a book for a few minutes if I’m already in the middle of it. During overnight nursing sessions when Selah was a newborn, I watched endless amounts of Netflix. It made getting up in the middle of the night a lot easier when I had the second half of movie or the next episode of a show to look forward to. Find a few quality sources of entertainment and turn to them when you’re able to catch a break. You may even find that you’re able to carve out more time for yourself than you thought you had access to.
4. Practice the art of ignoring.
I’m generally in favor of keeping surfaces clean and clear, washing the dishes immediately, and putting away laundry as quickly as possible. To some extent, doing these little tasks keeps my home tidy, which allows my mind to relax. But often, these things just aren’t possible in the intense seasons. If you could have seen my house during the first few weeks after having Selah, you would have wondered how on earth I claim to live simply. But I contained the mess to a few rooms (more about this in the next point) and learned to ignore it. If I had spent my precious few minutes of downtime sorting through the mess in my house, my mind and body would have remained a mess. It’s okay and good to choose to read a book, lay on the couch, or just close your eyes, all while ignoring the disaster in the next room. When you have access to just a few minutes of rest at a time, use them to care for yourself and not for your stuff.
5. Have a sanctuary.
Even while ignoring the mess in most rooms of my house after Selah was born, I tried to keep the family room and my bedroom tidy-ish, as these rooms were where I spent most of my time. Having some semblance of normalcy in these areas helped me feel more calm, and I could retreat to these spaces whenever I needed a break. Have a space you can escape to when everything else feels out of balance. Keep this space stocked with your essentials and little luxuries — comfy pillows and blankets, a favorite candle, water bottles — so you don’t have to go in search of them when you have a few minutes to yourself.
6. Ask for help.
This might be as simple as calling for takeout or as formal as seeing a therapist or as humbling as asking your friends to help you move (really, is there any request more humbling than that?). Allowing others to see you in your time of need is uncomfortable, but asking them to help can sometimes seem downright embarrassing. We want to believe we have it all together, that we can manage on our own. But here’s the thing: there’s no medal of honor or gold star waiting for us if we get through difficult times entirely on our own strength. There’s only exhaustion. Accept the help when it’s offered, and ask for it when it’s not.
Making use of these practices can help you to stay afloat in the stormier seasons of life, when you may not be able to feel truly rested. No matter what your circumstances, it’s important to be good to yourself and strap on that proverbial oxygen mask so you can breathe a little easier.6 ways to practice #selfcare when true #rest is out of reach. Click To Tweet