On The Practice of Resting

Let’s be real. We live in a paradigm of overconsumption and I’m not simply talking about the conventional consumption of food, clothes, material items, etc.. We exist in an era where we’ve subjected ourselves to being overly-consumed by our jobs, emails, phones, social media and an amalgamation of things that suck the life right of our chests. Typically, when the discourse around consumption in the context of our culture arises, it is depicted as a one sided phenomenon - individuals recklessly devouring fleeting things. In reality, it has become double-sided. We’ve made ourselves vulnerable to being engulfed — we’re no longer just the consumers, we’ve become the consumed.

What’s the solution? How do you purge and allow yourself to be purged? You rest. You do nothing.

This, in the context of today, may seem like a revolutionary act of “self-care”. But may I remind you that God created the universe in six days and on the seventh day He, get this, rested. And it wasn’t because he was tired. It was so he could set a precedence for us; after laboring and cultivating, one must pause, look back at their work, see it as good, mark it as done and prepare themselves for the next phase of work.

I want to emphasize that the concept of resting is not revolutionary nor is it radical. Though our always-on-the-go, hustle-harder, never-sleep culture makes it seem like an outlandish practice to take on, it’s not. It’s simply essential. It’s essential to your existence, your health and your ability to achieve success. Understand it as such. Don’t view it as a rebellious task to take on but as a thread that holds the garment of your life together. Without it, it all will inevitably fall apart.

This summer, I encourage you to follow these 5 steps and incorporate resting into your life. Come fall, you will find that resting will not be a task but a part of your lifestyle.

  1. Define
    What does resting mean to you? Create your own definition. For some, resting may look like a day dedicated to finishing up a book you’ve been reading intermittently during your commute on the train to work. For others, it may consist of a morning devoted to trying that recipe that speaks to your every taste bud but haven’t had the time to try. And for those who refuel through communion with others, resting can take on the form of a day spent with your girls talking about everything except your “to-do”s. As long as your act of resting veers from stress-inducing activities, you can identify it as such.

  2. Identify

    Choose a time/day during your week and block it off - identify it as sacred. View this day as an appointment and mark it with high-importance. Do your best to say “no” to people/tasks/meetings that request time from your resting period. When you first get into the practice of resting, this may be challenging. But resist the urge to give in. As you begin to recognize how revitalizing resting is, you’ll prioritize it over...well, almost any non-urgent thing.

  3. Prepare

    Yes. An anomaly, I know. However, it is imperative to prepare. Prepare to do...nothing.

    Prior to your day of rest, plan out what it is exactly you’re going to partake in, what you’re going to avoid and because your day of rest should eliminate all forms of strenuous labor, prepare for the day after your restful day (i.e. I rest on Sundays. So, on Saturdays, I meal prep and prepare for my Monday on either Friday or Saturday). This day should be as low-stress as possible.

  4. Unplug

    Get off of social media. Get off of your phone. Need I say more?

    Okay, I’ll say a bit more. The constant and never-ending stimuli from our phones and social media have left us bereft of our quiet thoughts. We are constantly bombarded with information that we barely critically process. On top of all this, we are exposed to images and information that often times makes us doubt our personhood, our worthiness and value. We need to detoxify. On your rest day, do yourself this favor and remove yourself from the digital world. May your day of rest be in analog.

  5. Reflect

    As I stated in the previous point, most days of your week, I imagine, consist of a bombardment of information. During your day of rest, embrace the silence and use it to reflect. Reflect on the days prior and look out expectantly on the days to come. Process the different emotions, sensations and tensions you experienced. Digest them and let them inform your steps going forward.

    Once you’ve done that, be present in your resting. Reflect on the now.

When I first started incorporating resting into my weekly routine, I started with a small step. I dedicated 6-8 hours to doing “nothing”. Eventually, that grew to 12 hours and now I can say that on most rest days, I won’t even check my email (look at me, I’m living on the edge). I’m a 20-something, young professional, about to be grad-student, living in the city and trying to make it (whatever that means). I get it. Resting seems like a luxury. But the more I practice it, the more I’m reminded that I wasn’t created to push my body to its limits. I wasn’t created to burnout.

Let’s not wait until our physical body and/or psyche is in crisis for us to take care of ourselves. Let’s take part in preventative care. While you currently have the option, tune out the idea that you always have to be (or look) busy. Give your body what it needs, which is the opportunity to recuperate.  

So, to my fellow go-getters and wannabe somebodies, I invite you to join me as I stare at a wall and let my mind, my body and soul rest.


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About The Author:

Naomi Fedna is a Project Coordinator and Research Assistant at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) where she works on a public engagement campaign in North America and a research capacity building course in Ethiopia. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.A. in English and B.S. in Public Health. Naomi plans to attend Harvard Divinity School in the Fall of 2019 where she will pursue a master of divinity (MDiv). She is interested in the intersection of Christian theology, structural violence as it pertains to the experience of the African diaspora and healing. On her free time, you can find her cooking, hanging with her friends and family and obnoxiously laughing at her own jokes.

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