Want to learn how to make time for rest and rejuvenation like a pro? Whether you need rest when you are recovering from being sick, exhausted, or just looking for a healthier routine, here are ten ways to make time for rest in 10 minutes or less.
In my global organization, we know that the spiritual practice of rest and refreshment is key to personal and missional growth. We were created to do our best work out of God-ordained rest.
As a leader, I want to always seek to nurture and steward our staff, our strategic volunteers, and our global mission well. That’s why we offered a full-month sabbatical for our senior leaders each February for the past two year. It’s also why I encourage others throughout the organization to do the same.
Maybe a full month’s break isn’t feasible for you. Maybe your extremely demanding role (read: parenting) doesn’t quite allow for the kind of break that a sabbatical suggests. Often, it is when we don’t feel like we have the time that we are most in need of some sort of retreat. And there are ways to learn how to make time for rest even in the busiest schedules.
If you are fighting the same old battles in the same old ways, or if you are finding yourself too exhausted or too numb to really pay attention and appreciate what is going on around you, all is not well. These tips are a great place for you to start finding rest in your own rhythms – ways to rest without sleeping or watching TV.
How to Rest in Less Than 10 Minutes
In 2013, I conducted a study with Christian nonprofit leaders to discover what short practices bring rest and renewal in their day. Here are some ways that you can create rest in 10 minutes or less that emerged:
Breathe – deeply.
When someone says “it’s like breathing” they usually mean that you don’t have to think about it. Well, do think about it. Research says that 3 minutes of deep breathing can provide up to 5-6 hours of increased productivity. Breathing experts suggest this practice is definitely worth our time. Consider using a breathing app to help guide your time and remind you to do deep breathing regularly.
Practice the One Minute Pause.
In his book Get Your Life Back, John Eldredge presents the concept of the One Minute Pause – a way to bring Jesus right into the midst of your busy day. You can download the app to aid you in taking a minute (literally) to reflect on Jesus in your situation.
The One Minute Pause app is featured on our free download, Resources in Rest! Grab a copy for yourself here.
Stop for one song.
When you start to feel stress, allow yourself to stop what you’re doing for just the length of your favorite song. (Or better yet, make a little playlist that brings you peace and joy so you can mix it up each day!) Give yourself those 3-5 minutes to soak in the music and the memories it brings, to feel the rhythm, and perhaps even to dance out the stress
Take a short reading break.
Make time in your schedule for just ten minutes a day to read – but there’s a catch. You have to read something either a) mindless or b) inspiring. Nothing purely educational or that will make you feel like you need to do more. Find a comfy spot (when possible, somewhere with sunlight for a little extra serotonin.)
Get yourself a tall drink of water.
I mean this literally, of course. Pour a large glass of ice water, and drink the whole thing while sitting still and doing nothing else. Put the multitasking on pause as you perform this simple act of caring for one of your body’s most foundational needs.
No, that doesn’t say “scroll” on your phone. Learn how to rest by taking a leisurely walk for 5-10 minutes, just around your block or your space. Take your time, breathe in the air. Feel rest and recovery flow throughout your body. It’s a short break, and thoughts about your responsibilities will be there when you get back. Use this time to pray or think about pleasant things.
Sit and sip.
Make a cup of tea (or favorite beverage). Go to a quiet space. Sit in a favorite chair. Sip (don’t gulp) your drink until your cup is empty. Acknowledge that this brief break for rest is a positive choice for your day. This is an especially great example of how to rest and recover when you’re sick!
Make a gratitude list.
I’ve loved this idea ever since reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Take a moment to reflect on your world, then write down ten things you are grateful for in that moment. They don’t have to be profound – perhaps the smell of your coffee or the sound of children’s laughter. A kind text message, scrumptious lunch, encouraging words from a friend or family member, or recognizing amazing grace in your life. Research tells us people who regularly document gratitude actually have been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. And they’re happier and nicer to be around.
Hear a friendly voice.
Call a friend for no other reason than to hear their voice for ten minutes. If you want to make this a regular practice, make a list of people you’d like to have short catch-ups with. A simple, positive connection like this can be great fuel for a reenergized day. Take it up a notch and facetime your friends and family. You’ll give them a boost too!
Plan in your prayer time.
Scheduling something doesn’t diminish its value – in fact, it can help make it a priority not only in your routine but in your mind and soul. Put time for prayer on your calendar each day. Wherever you are, commit to taking that short break to reconnect with God and give whatever else is on your to-do list to him. Ask him to help you prioritize the things weighing on you.
Each of these practices can be completed in ten minutes or less. When practiced in soul-and-mind stillness they can multiply the other hours in your day as you feel refreshed.
Final Thoughts on Learning How to Rest
Start easy. Choose just one practice and commit to implementing it into your daily rhythm every day this week. Complete it in silence if you can (unless, of course, you’re listening to your song or connecting with your friend!) And make sure to completely unplug while you do it – no risk of phone calls, texts, or emails interrupting your time learning to rejuvenate.
I hope you find ways to make time for the practice of rest in your life. Let me know in the comments below some other ways you learn how to rest like a pro and how these ten experiences work for you!