Thanks to Theresa M. Heiser for providing this guest blog today. Theresa is a clergy colleague, great singer, and friend who adds spice to the lives of those around her.
In 2016 I discovered the most amazing rejuvenation and energy restoration technique ever; napping! I “hit the wall” one afternoon not knowing what to pick up and start next and prayed, “God, just tell me what you want me to do right now!” The nudge was clear, “Sleep.” At 2:30pm on a Tuesday, who does that? On second thought, it sounded really good. I was out in seconds and about twenty minutes later I was productive, creative, and focused again. Naps rule! I could accomplish more work in less time when my mind, body and soul were well rested and cared for. But do I have to hit the wall at all?
The demands experienced during the pandemic inspired me to seek a consistent balance of work and rest. Not rest for the sake of sitting still or napping, but overall downtime for the brain to improve the benefits. I read up on several studies about the habits of those who incorporated mental breaks and the resulting increase in productivity, greater attention/focus, improved memory, and creativity. Having proven some of these results true through the occasional nap, the notion of overall improved function, through downtime, was intriguing.
I began taking 2 hour “retreats” Monday – Friday. What do you do? Whatever you want! How cool is it give yourself time? But if you need some guidance, there are wonderful resources online that give ideas about mental downtime. My ideas came from my surroundings. My cat, Sophie Ophie, adores our playtime with lots of slow blinking at each other. Sounds weird, but if you have a cat, try the slow blinking. It’s fascinating, and we play with her toy springs all over the house. Mad-Libs are silly and awesome and simple ways to tickle the brain for the fun of it. I may go for a walk or sit outside with no phone, no earbuds, just the sound of an awesome water fountain. This time of year, I can float in the pool, with or without music. The birds and insects do a great job of filling the air already. Fairly quickly I’m staring at the sky and the clouds look like Elvis or flying pigs or ice cream cones and before you know it two hours have flown by and it was time very well spent.
The results? Often it’s during the downtime that new ideas or solutions spring forth. I’ll write them down so I don’t forget. I’ve planned trips and outings as a result of downtime. I find my days are more exciting and fulfilling. There’s more to reflect on at the end of the day than “I got up, I worked, I made dinner, I did dishes.” I’m fully participating in my space and neighborhood as I see and hear what I never did before because I was inside all day working. There is also a greater sense of joy!
Questions to ponder:
How can I incorporate rest into my daily routine?
Pay attention to where you get new ideas or solutions to problems. Is it in the shower? Driving? Taking a walk?
Theresa Heiser is the sole proprietor of the web services and voice-over production company Homestead Graphics and Design Studio and serves as a part-time licensed local pastor to the four-point Penns Valley Charge of the United Methodist Church. She has voiced projects for the United Nations, Discovery Channel, Family Life Radio, and clients worldwide and plans to continue improving all skillsets to improve the effectiveness of ministry.
Resources: The Benefits Of Resting And How To Unplug In A Busy World Forbes
Rest A Health-Related Phenomenon and Concept in Caring Science US Nat’l Library of Medicine, Nat’l Institutes of Health