Article: Rest… in Peace | Sarah Thomas, Australia

Last month May was celebrated as the mental health awareness month in most countries. For various reasons, it is a special month for me. It is my birthday month so is my daughter’s, my best mate’s, and also Mother’s Day and International Nurses day all fall in May. Mental health is always neglected, and mental illnesses are still stigmatized in society. There is a clear lack of qualified mental health physicians compared to the demand. Most people do not seek treatment and even if they do, they do not complete treatment and follow up. It’s high time we look at mental health issues in a different light and offer them the necessary support and hope.

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This article focuses on rest which is much needed for all in today’s world. I have taken ideas from a book by Saundra Dalton-Smith MD “Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.”God himself gave significance to this topic as he declared the seventh day as a resting day. So here are a few areas we can target.

Physical rest – passive or active: Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest means restorative activities such as stretching that help improve the body’s circulation and flexibility. The health benefits of quality sleep can never be underestimated. Sleep lowers blood pressure, giving your heart and blood vessels a rest. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke. Sleep helps in academic and athletic performance. Lack of sleep affects the hormones that control appetite thus impacting weight gain. Sleep is necessary for blood sugar regulation and even affects immunity as the lack of sleep changes the way the immune cells work.

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Mental rest: Switching off thoughts can be a struggle for some people. These are people who toss and turn in their beds with either conversation from the day or anxious thoughts about tomorrow. The remedy for this is increased physical activity, practising mindfulness, writing down nagging thoughts, listening to worship music or Psalms, purposeful slowing down and meditating on the Word of God.

Sensory rest: Pandemic has increased our digital consumption including zoom meetings, bright screens, and multiple conversations through multiple media to people in different time zones thus causing sensory overload. It is so difficult to become detached from devices, but it is good practice to close your eyes for at least one minute during the day. Many groups who practice Tech Sabbath switch off their devices on Friday evening.

Creative rest: Creative rest is needed for all, especially those who need new ideas like artists, writers or even for cooking. Nature is the best place to get that creative rest. It need not be somewhere far away; it can be a little pond next to your house, or the ocean or even looking at the moon or stars. It can be in your little garden just looking at the beauty of the flower that has just blossomed. I find it so peaceful watching the full moon which is something most people can watch. It can also be looking at an artwork or listening to your favorite instrument. It is a good idea to have such things in your houses, workspaces including kitchens.

Emotional rest: Many people who look after the emotional needs of others including, parents, teachers, and anyone in the service industry can feel the need for emotional rest occasionally or daily. They can feel lonely and underappreciated. Lots of homemakers feel this way but not many express their feelings truly.

Social rest: Social connections can build us and drain us. We should be able to discern which ones are helping us and which ones are draining us. The only way to get more social rest is when we are surrounded by the right group of people who can uplift us. Let us be wise in choosing even our virtual groups and connections.

Spiritual rest: The final type of rest is spiritual rest, which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance, and purpose. Your souls will find rest only when you connect with your Creator. Sleep alone can’t restore us to the point we feel rested.

Rest is crucial in the cycle of life. God proposed Sabbath so we can choose to stay clear of all work and rest. Psalms 127:4 reminds us that it is God who provides sleep. Let’s reflect on which type of rest is needed for us and the ways to implement it. Remember our final destination is a resting place!

Sarah Thomas, Australia

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