I’ve just been blessed to be able to go away on holiday for a few days, and spent five days in the Costa del Sol with my mum. It was lovely to have some quality mother-daughter time, but also really nice to just get away from everything.
It’s been about a month or so since I’ve managed to get a post written and uploaded, and for that I’m sad, but it’s partly because of what I want to talk about today. I haven’t had the time to write content that I’d be proud of, and I had to prioritise resting when possible!
If you’ve read my ‘Honest Reflections | Detours’ post, then you’ll know that my gap year plans didn’t really pan out, and I had to change them last minute. One of the underlying causing that I probably didn’t touch on in that post, was that following 3 exam summers, I’d pretty much burnt out.
I desperately needed to stop, and my body had found a way of telling me that. I knew that I’d pushed too far, and too hard, for just too long.
I didn’t let myself rest, let alone know HOW to. Rest just didn’t enter into the equation for the last three years of my school life – it was work, work, extra-curricular, and a bit more work.
So, when I got to September, and was faced with absolutely NOTHING… I had no idea what to do.
I didn’t have to go to school, I wasn’t working, and I didn’t have any school work or revision to do. In many ways that ‘absence’ of anything, is what encouraged me to start this blog. I desperately needed something to do.
Early on in September, just after sharing with my Church a brief summary of what had happened, I was given a word from someone. If anything, this is something I’ve tried to hang on to this year, but in total honesty, I haven’t done the best job at sticking to it.
“You have not been cast away in illness, but have been laid aside for stillness.”
Now, for someone who had been made to change everything about my gap year plans because of something health related, this struck a chord, and I’ve had this at the back of my mind ever since. I knew that in this year, I needed to do my best to learn how to find that stillness, rest, and most importantly, how to STOP.
Fast forward six months, and we’re in the run up to the Easter holidays. I’m busy, left right and centre, and distinctly remember saying to someone at work…
“I feel like I need a break, but I don’t know when’s coming.”
In that moment, we realised that I hadn’t had any holiday/time off since September. And for someone who promised to try and ‘rest’ this year, somewhere along the way, I’d failed quite drastically. I can tell you, that in that moment, (and over the year), I’ve really missed half-terms!
Over the next few days, we worked out what holiday I had to take, and I made sure to book some in. Between taking a few days away to visit St Andrews, and now to Spain, the last month and a half has definitely had some ‘time off’ in it, and it’s been really refreshing.
I’ve needed time to just let my mind stop, and to let my body catch up.
Despite my best efforts, I know that I haven’t been prioritising the most fundamental part of what I wanted from this year, and that was rest. While on holiday in the Summer, just after making the decision to pull from Action Teams, I wrote a list of what I wanted to try and get out of this year. The first thing that was written, was rest.
- Nothing intensive
- A chance to grow, both personally and in faith
- Something to keep my mind active and learning
- Flexibility and freedom – to allow the recovery that is needed
From that list, it’s pretty evident that I had realised what was needed. I suppose, in many ways, burn out teaches you that.
So, I knew I needed to rest, and to stop. But as I said, I had no idea how to do that. Despite everything that we learn at school, I’d come out after 13 years of education, with no clear knowledge of how to rest.
During exam season, we were told all about the need for a ‘balance’, and not working too hard, but if all you’ve ever known is ‘work’, then how are we supposed to know what that balance is?
This is definitely something I’ve realised this year, and have been thinking about recently. I know that a healthy balance between work and life (both in terms of social interaction, but also ‘me’ time), is incredibly important. I also know that this doesn’t just come at the push of a button. Nor can I wave a magic wand and everything will be sorted.
This is likely to be something I’ll be working at for years. It will change when I go to uni, and when life changes its routine.
But, by making an effort to think about this, and try and prioritise rest, I’m hoping that it will someday become easier. I don’t need to feel guilty about resting – after all, we’re supposed to have time off. We’re not work machines. Even God rested on the Sabbath – so I’m going to try and restore that notion, somehow.
I know this isn’t easy, and in many ways, I failed throughout this year to make it restful. I’ve been busy, just in a very different kind of way to how I was at school.
But, even if I haven’t rested as much as I should have, or even wanted to – I’ve learnt some valuable lessons.
- It is so easy to get lost in the list of ‘things I HAVE to get done’, and to believe that there’s not time to stop, when in actual fact, there is.
- If you’re run down, and running on low battery, you’ll most likely have to re-do things, because that’s when mistakes are made.
- You’re not ‘weak’ for needing time off. We’re not supposed to function at 100%, 24/7, and so it’s not surprising that eventually your body will start protesting.
- Finally, I’ve learnt to listen to myself more. If I’m tired, or feeling on the edge of exhaustion, then maybe I just need to take a nap one afternoon.
Rest is a tricky thing to get right, and I by no means have done it. But I’m determined to keep at it, because I want to avoid being back where I was a year ago.
I’m going to keep trying to slow down, and learn how to be satisfied in the stillness.