6 Secrets to a Restful Life

Anna Kettle

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Published: Mar 10, 2021
6 Secrets to a Restful Life

I think that what has become ‘rest’ for many of us in this season might be physical rest; it may be sitting on a sofa, rather than rushing around, but it’s rarely that deep soul rest and recovery space that we really need.

When lockdown measures were first introduced Iast year as the COVID-19 pandemic began, it felt like an invitation to slower living.

Life as we knew it was suddenly interrupted beyond all recognition, and with so many of my regular commitments cancelled indefinitely, I had so many good intentions about how I would use all of that extra time I suddenly had.

I planned to read more, pray more, exercise more, call more friends, love my neighbours better, enjoy more quality time with family, and be more mentally present in my own life.

But looking back now, even despite all those cancelled plans and activities, I still haven’t felt more rested.

The truth is that most of us have just swapped old forms of busyness for new ones. Lots of people have either been putting in long hours as critical workers, or juggling home-schooling children alongside home-working.

It also strikes me that perhaps a lot of the exhaustion I feel in this season is not just physical; it’s about mental and emotional overload too. Having your routine continually changed and disrupted by new restrictions and rules can really begin to wear you down after a while.

Do you, like me, often find yourself exhausted at the end of the day, crashing out on the sofa in front of Netflix, aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, or shopping online for things you don't really need?

I think that what has become ‘rest’ for many of us in this season might be physical rest; it may be sitting on a sofa, rather than rushing around, but it’s rarely that deep soul rest and recovery space that we really need.

Learning to Rest

So how do we practice resting well in this season? It’s a question I’ve wrestled with a lot.

For a long time I felt trapped in my exhaustion and over-busyness, and I worried that the only way to combat it was by completely overhauling my whole life. But as I’ve dug deep into God’s Word, what I’ve discovered is that you don’t have to quit your job, rip up the script, get off the grid, or book a long holiday abroad in order to experience a slower, simpler, more soulful way of life. You can do it right where you are.

In fact, I believe that we can all create better margins of rest right where we are — and small changes are often the best. It just takes a bit of intentionality about prioritising rest in your everyday life.

In my new bookSand Between Your Toes: Inspirations for a Slower, Simpler, More Soulful Life, which releases this month, I offer 100 different daily, Bible-based reflections, hope-filled prayers, and practical tips to help encourage and equip you to regularly pause, unplug, unwind, and find God’s peace amidst life’s complications.

And as a taster, I have selected a few of my favourite practices to help get you started.

Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Artem Kovalev

bible verses about favor, favor bible verses, scriptures on favor

1. Learn to Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

This is a real challenge for activists and A-type personalities like me. To me, being still often sounds… well, a little bit boring!

Plus, we live in a culture which really over-values busyness too, don’t we? It’s like we’ve all been conditioned to believe that constant movement and motion is more desirable than pause — even if it doesn’t really take us anywhere useful.

But the truth I am coming to realise is this: busyness with clear purpose can be worse than standing still. Maybe sometimes we really do just need to hit pause, choose to be still, and let Him be God.

So if you’re lacking clarity or direction today, why not try it today? Press the pause button on activity for a moment. Try taking a few moments each day to be still in God’s presence. Turn off your phone and push aside all other distractions.

Simply focus on Him and let it begin to change your perspective.

2. Turn Down the Noise

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God.” (Psalm 62:5)

Do you ever feel stressed out or mentally harassed by the endless ‘to do’ list in your head? Or do you ever find yourself mentally overwhelmed and exhausted by the endless streams of information constantly vying for your attention?

The digital age has created a world where our minds are constantly bombarded by noise, and where true silence is becoming harder and harder to find. Is it any wonder that sometimes it feels so difficult to tune into God?

Maybe there’s a direct correlation between the amount of noise we allow into our lives and our inability to hear God’s voice as clearly or as often as we would like to. And maybe we also need to be more deliberate and disciplined about turning it down at times.

Practising this might feel a bit unnatural at first — but why not just start small? Try spending just 10 minutes being completely silent before God today — no words, and no agenda. Just listen and hold space for his presence. Don’t worry if your mind drifts off; just gently keep bringing it back. And as you get more practiced, you could stretch yourself for longer periods too.

Who knows, perhaps you might find the silence speaking to you loudly!

3. Take a Digital Detox

You say, “I am allowed to do anything” but not everything is beneficial.”  (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Are you in control of your phone, or is your phone controlling you? According to the latest research, the average person checks their phone 33 times every day and spends at least 1 hour 40 minutes browsing on it. If that seems like a lot of time, that’s because it is!

But if we’re honest, most of the time we barely notice the amount of our time being continuously sucked away by alerts popping up and distracting us, because it happens in lots of tiny moments. Is it any wonder that we call feel mentally harassed and like there’s not enough hours in the day?

Well if you, like me, often struggle to unplug, unwind and rest your mind, perhaps it’s time to consider doing a digital detox. I’m not anti-technology and I’m certainly not advocating a total boycott, but it’s really important not to let social media steal away all your time and fragment your sense of peace.

So why not start by considering some personal boundaries or setting some simple household rules around mobile phone use?

You could try a day or an evening a week where you go completely device free. Or if that sounds too much of a leap, decide a time when you will switch off your phone, laptop, tablet, etc. each evening and not look at it again, or perhaps set a ‘no phones at the table’ rule during family meals.

Figure out what will work for you, agree it with those around you, and then just stick to.

4. Schedule Some Rest

“God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:3)

It strikes me that a lot of the tiredness we feel isn’t just physical, but it’s emotional and mental exhaustion too. Too often we can find ourselves exhausted at the end of the day, crashing out in front of Netflix, aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, or mindlessly googling about stuff we don't need.

And although that might be physical rest, it might be relaxing on the sofa instead of rushing around like we do all day; the truth is that it’s rarely mental downtime or that deep soul rest that can’t come with a quick fix.

Maybe true rest is less about physically stopping, and more about resting the mind; maybe it’s less about doing nothing, and more about doing ‘something different’ instead.

Of course, our need to regularly rest from work is not a newsflash for our Creator! The concept of ‘Sabbath’ — taking one day in seven to step away from the schedule, the to-do list and the routine — was his idea after all.

Not sure where to begin in developing regular rhythms of rest in your life? Why not start by taking a short, honest rest inventory of your week:

Are you resting enough? And is it ‘quality’ rest?

Do you regularly practice switching off and stepping away from everything? Or do you need to schedule some real rest in?

Think about what feels truly restful for you — then get intentional and plan to do it regularly.

5. Try Saying ‘No’

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” (Psalm 62:5)

Our culture is obsessed with more: more work, more money, more achievements, more success, more influence, more stuff.

Often ‘more’ can sound like the most spiritual or selfless option, can’t it? More commitment, more activity, more self-sacrifice, more service. But sometimes less is more. Less rushing around, less cramming things in, less spreading yourself too thin, and less pushing yourself so hard can be much more beneficial.

In fact, sometimes saying no is the single most spiritual thing we can do. Too often when we take on more, we are actually just people-pleasing — trying to please others rather than accomplishing what God wants us to do.

It can be so easy to slip into believing that saying yes is always the better option, because yes is the word that makes things happen. If we don’t do it, who will? And so often we end up putting the needs of everyone else before our own.

But saying no when you already feel overstretched and overloaded in order to prioritize the health of your own soul is not selfish; it’s necessary. And it’s also the right thing to do, both for you and for those around you — because you simply can’t give what you don’t have.

So if you find you’re regularly over-extended and spread too thin, try using this magic little two-letter word ‘no.’ Turn down a project. Drop some commitments. Choose to let some of the unimportant things slide.

Put your hope in God, not in how much you can do, and discover deeper rest for your soul.

6. Practice Self-Reflection

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Have you ever found yourself getting frustrated or wound up about something very trivial, and then thought to yourself afterwards, ‘What is wrong with me?!’ I do this all the time!

Maybe some of those emotional outbursts come from never really creating the time and space to process life as it happens, or to properly deal with its impact on our hearts.

And although what's inside of our hearts can stay hidden for a time, sooner or later it will end up overflowing into our words and actions — and it will probably end up spilling out at the wrong time, and at the wrong person. So it’s really worth taking some time out for regular self-reflection and proactively processing our emotions.

Learning to ‘guard your heart,’ as the Bible puts it, means being brave enough to deal with any hurts, disappointments or offenses day by day as they happen, instead of just shelving things until a later date, which often never comes.

So why not take a quick emotional pulse-check at the end of your day? Ask God to show you any emotional baggage you might need to deal with. This could be through prayer, meditation or journaling. Whatever works for you, try to mentally unload the emotions from the day so that you don’t carry them into the next.

Discover how to live lightly, and let go of trying to drag that stuff around!

sand between my toes, anna kettleSand Between Your Toes: Inspirations for a Slower, Simpler and More Soulful Life is available to buy now. You can find out more, and download the first sample pages to try for free at: www.annakettle.com

Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Aaron Burden

Anna Kettle iBelieve writer authorAnna Kettle is a Christian author, blogger, speaker, and an award-winning marketing professional. Her first devotional book, ‘Sand Between Your Toes: Inspirations for a Slower, Simpler, More Soulful Life’ released earlier this year under Tyndale House. She is also a co-founder of SPACE, a UK-based miscarriage & infertility support network for women. Anna is a coffee lover, bookworm, travel enthusiast, music fan, keen foodie, gatherer of people, a miscarriage warrior, and a big believer in the healing power of words. She is married to husband Andy, and mom to their little boy Ben who is 6.

You can find more of her writing at www.annakettle.com or at www.thereisspaceforyouhere.com

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