This is no ordinary weapon, yet it is by far the most valuable tool anyone could use. This is a weapon of personal enhancement. It can sharpen focus, increase precision, reduce the occurrence of errors, misfeeds or jamming, aid in efficient and appropriate computations and target prioritizing, boost and enhance cognitive programming and multi-functional system operations, help prevent communication breakdown as well as improve memory input capacity and clarity of messages, plus so much more! It is ideal for any operation, especially team efforts and management. This unique and powerful resource is available to military and civilian personnel alike, and the best part is you don’t even need a license or permit to use it!
Have you guessed what this powerful weapon could be yet?
It is REST.
That’s right. REST. Fatigue is one of the biggest enemies to productivity, health and relationships. Operating without proper rest lowers efficiency, cognitive function and creativity, innovation, resourcefulness, attention to detail, ability to comprehend and communicate effectively, moods and responses to people and situations are sketchy, reaction times are lowered, judgment is dulled, and one’s overall ability to perform well at anything, both personally and professionally is hampered. In our fast paced society, so many people are driving themselves into the ground with all of the demands in our lives, personal goals & standards, and the expectations of others. We get so wrapped up in our own busy-ness that we neglect ourselves and feel like we can or must push through our discomforts and fatigue for the sake of the tasks at hand. However, in doing so, we are sacrificing the quality of the work, as well as our closest relationships and personal needs.
There is always more to do than there is time in the day. That is why prioritizing is so important. Pick a few of the most important things for the current day, they must be achievable within a reasonable work period, then do only those things and be done for the day. Designate a specific time to stop and rest. If anything is not done by that time, then it will have to wait until the next day. Rest must become a priority if you care about your work and relationships at all. To sacrifice rest is also to sacrifice your work and relationships. The best thing you can do for the things that are most important to you is to take care of yourself and make sure you can operate at peak performance and be mentally present and physically energized to meet the demands you face. You must also be able to say no. Set boundaries around your rest time and do not let demands or expectations force their way in. Protect your quiet time, your sleep time, the time to address your own needs. This is a sacred time.
If necessary set timers throughout the day. This is something I struggle with all the time too. I am always sacrificing my rest because I want to get something done. I need to stop. I will be committing myself to setting aside at least one hour per day to be still, quiet and calm. To reflect on how I feel physically, mentally and emotionally. To assess my immediate needs and take care of them. If you have family living with you, it would also be advisable to set aside extra time for them, maybe at least a couple hours a day. Be present with them, focus on them, do not let work or demands distract you from them. They are a precious and valuable part of your life, so prioritize time with them. The work will always be there, but time with your family is limited and can never be regained once lost. If you don’t have family living with you, make some time to call your family and friends and check in with the people you care about. Relationships fade and decay if neglected, so treat them as if they have value to you. If you don’t, you may end up quite lonely.
Set a bed time as well. Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep or more per night. Help yourself wake up refreshed so that you can be more efficient and be more amazing at everything you do. If you feel tired when trying to work on something, take a nap when you can, or go to bed early and wake up extra early to finish it. This will help clear your mind and make it easier to think and be faster. We all hear about these suggestions, habits and the consequences for not following them, yet we consistently fall right back into the burdens of our demands on ourselves and once again forget to follow these simple habits. They are simple, but not easy. They are important, so resolve in your own mind that they are important, believe it, and prioritize them to reflect that belief.
My goal, one that you are welcome and encouraged to follow, is to set aside at least one hour per day to shut off all devices (TV, computers, phones, iPads, radio, etc), get away from people and demands, find a quiet and comfortable place, and check in with myself to evaluate how I am really doing. We fly through the days so fast that we often don’t even stop to think about how each day, each event, each activity is affecting us. So, when I check in with myself I will be looking inward, trying to clearly understand exactly what I feel in that moment physically and emotionally. Do I feel tired? Do I feel stressed or anxious? Do I feel happy? Do I feel discouraged? Does anything hurt? Does my skin feel dry? Does my hair have split ends? Do my nails need to be filed? Am I breathing well? Am I relaxed? Is my mind clear? Etc. I will write down what I discover in that moment about all these things, then I will think of ways to address them.
Maybe in that moment I am feeling stressed, discouraged, short of breath and notice that my nails are rough and skin is dry. Plus, I’m tired. In this case, during my hour to myself, I will write down everything on my mind making me stressed and discouraged. If it is a “To Do” list, I will prioritize what absolutely must be done today and then put the rest on a list for later. If I am discouraged because of stress, I will resolve to do what I can today according to my small list that cannot wait, and let go of the rest and know that it will be done in time. If I am discouraged because I’m worried about a friend or family member, maybe I will give them a call, or someone who is near them, to check on them and see if there is anything I can do to help (within reason, take care of yourself). If it seems like one of those feelings that comes and I’m not sure exactly why I feel that way, then maybe I’ll put on a comedy to watch and lounge on a comfortable bed or couch while moisturizing my dry skin and filing my nails. Maybe I’ll paint them while I’m at it to make them look pretty and feel better about myself. If I’m hungry, maybe I’ll get a snack or eat some ice cream. Whatever I need in that moment to refresh myself is what that hour is for. To clear your mind, reset your emotional state, and address your body’s needs. Your body knows when it’s being neglected and when it’s holding unnecessary baggage and sooner or later, it will tell you about it, sometimes in not so pleasant ways.
Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and get plenty of rest every day. You will not regret it, and everything else can wait. The world will not end if you take time out to just relax and refresh. In fact, the world will probably become a better place if you do.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
The Message (MSG)
11-12 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.
New International Version (NIV):
11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
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