A lit Christmas tree reflecting in the window with a dark night on the other side...reflecting on our need for embracing rest


Last year, I discovered a new (to me) kind of rest. I had committed to many obligations during the holiday season. It was December fourth, and I was already weary. A friend invited me to spend the evening at a historic hotel admiring Christmas lights and sipping hot cocoa. Though many responsibilities pressed on me, this was an invitation to pause. I’m discovering there’s more than one kind of busy and more than one kind of rest. When we know where we’re depleted, we can begin embracing rest as a part of our lives.  

There’s more than one kind of busy and more than one kind of rest. When we know where we’re depleted, we can begin embracing rest as a part of our lives. #choosingrest #sacredrest Click To Tweet
A woman snapping photos of Christmas lights on trees outside at night

In this series about rest, we’ve talked about why we should rest, how to begin creating a pattern of rest in our lives, and the benefits of rest.

Remember how I defined rest a couple of weeks ago? 

 Rest = Refreshment for our bodies, souls, spirits . . . for every part of who we are.

So many things—activities, interactions with others, words spoken or received, and more—deplete us. I wish I had another month or so to delve into all the areas where we need rest. 

A full-size photo of a Christmas tree

I read an insightful book called Sacred Rest, by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith that dives deep into our need for rest, as well as the benefits that come when we institute a rest-practice in our daily lives. She talks about seven areas where we need rest. 

What I’ve come to understand is that each of these areas need regular replenishing. The way we do this is by identifying the things that deplete us and what will restore us in each area. These areas are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, sensory, creative, and social rest. 

Integrating Rest Into Our Lives

One necessary step for integrating rest into our lives is to identify those areas where we are weary. Where do we have nothing left to give? I’m very briefly sharing ideas for rest in each of these areas. 

Where you’ll find the most benefit is by taking time to evaluate each of these seven areas and ask God to show you why you are depleted in this area. God invites us to seek Him in this process. Dr. Dalton-Smith has a questionnaire you can use to help determine where you are burned out. She has wonderful resources on her website to help you with rest. 

All quotes in this post are from Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith.

A dark shot of a woman snapping pictures of the lights outside

Suggestions for Embracing Rest

Physical rest—We find physical rest through taking time to stretch out tight muscles, identify what’s aching and take care of it rather than ignoring it. Take a bath. Find time for quiet.

Emotional Rest—“Emotions are to be explored, encountered, enjoyed. They were never meant to be bottled up.”

When we’re emotionally depleted, our reserves are restored when we find people with whom we can be authentic and vulnerable . . . with whom we are safe to share heart hurts. 

Mental Rest—“Mental rest is your mind’s comfort zone. It’s the place your brain retreats to feel safe so your mind can function optimally.”

A meme that says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8 on a backdrop of a tree lighting up the night sky.

We all deal with “mind chatter.” Dr. Dalton-Smith mentions many things to incorporate rest, but when we deal with our thought life, we learn how to find mental rest.

We all deal with “mind chatter.” Dr. Dalton-Smith mentions many things to incorporate rest, but when we deal with our thought life, we learn how to find mental rest. #choosingrest #sacredrest Click To Tweet

Become aware of where you set your thoughts. If your thoughts loop on worries and striving, you need to redirect them toward the attributes and truths of God.

A meme that says, "Spiritual rest is where the broken places mend. Rest holds ups the fragments, naked and unashamed before God." ~Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith on a backdrop of lit up trees reflecting into a frozen pond

Spiritual Rest“Spiritual rest is where the broken places mend. Rest holds up the fragments, naked and unashamed before God. Rest acknowledges the disconnection and draws near.” 

Spiritual rest comes through connecting with God through prayer, meditating on His word, worshiping Him, journaling, and learning how to love Him relationally.

People sitting around a fire pit with Christmas lights offering the lighting

Other Areas to Consider for Rest

Sensory Rest—“Sensory rest involves denying one or more of our senses the experience of the physical world for short periods.”

Our five senses enrich our worlds, but they are also easily overwhelmed. Constant connectivity to our screens, perfumes, loud noises, blue light, lots of typing on keyboards are all elements that can overwhelm.

Sensory rest comes in discovering the triggers that cause you to feel overwhelmed and giving those areas a rest. Quiet to replace loud noises. Darkness to replace blue light. Fresh air to replenish after being in a scent-overwhelming environment. Think about what invigorates your senses and use those to give yourself sensory rest.

A large lit tree offering light into the dark night.

Creative Rest—“This is a rest one finds when immersed in creative beauty.” 

This rest isn’t just for “creatives”; It’s for everyone. Our spirits are filled when we get out of our normal environment and experience beauty in our world. Whether it’s a hike, a trip to a geographically different area, taking time to smell a blooming flower or to hear a baby laugh . . . these are all ways to find creative rest. 

Social Rest“Social rest is when we find comfort in our social interactions. The ability to find solace in another.” 

Isolation wearies us. Finding people we connect with on a deep level refreshes us.  

Social rest comes through authenticity in relationships. “Social rest is about making space for those relationships that revive you.”

A tall Christmas tree glowing with the backdrop of the night sky and the moon

What Rest Requires

These seven areas in our lives are interconnected. When we are embracing rest in one area, other areas of our lives will also benefit. And the other thing? Rest requires time. Maybe not a large block of time, but we must be willing to set aside our busyness in order to choose rest.

The author with the friend who offered her rest

As my friend and I meandered through the hotel and into chilly night air that pinched our cheeks, we marveled at tall Christmas trees lit and decorated. The hum of laughter and conversations swirled around us. My soul began to breathe deep. When we wandered inside and sipped delicious hot chocolate near a crackling fireplace, we opened our hearts to each other and connected deeply. That evening of unexpected rest invigorated me and equipped me to dive back in to preparing for Christmas and living life. 

What about you? Which kinds of rest are you missing? How do you find rest in the busy seasons of your life?

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