Opinion: Redefining rest for a tired generation
There’s a swing that rests on a withered branch of an oak tree on my grandparents' farm. I can close my eyes and remember the shadows that the tree casts as the sun sets on that tired valley.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much those quiet moments, swaying back and forth over a worn-out patch of grass, shaped my perception of rest.
I know firsthand that you can get plenty of sleep and still be exhausted mentally, spiritually and even physically, but rest is much more than one of those highly-coveted Sunday-afternoon naps.
When sought after and found, rest is capable of replenishing your body and mind.
Our generation is stressed out, sleep-deprived and struggling with a mental health crisis of astonishing proportions.
According to a 2018 study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), “91 percent of Gen Zs between ages 18 and 21 say they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom [such as depression and anxiety] due to stress in the past month.”
Work, personal debt, health-related concerns, addiction and the economy all fall under a serious list of stressors.
So, what’s keeping you awake at night? More importantly, what are you doing to recharge yourself after a full day of navigating the obstacles of life?
Learning to pursue rest begins with the decision to fill your life with good things.
When you learn to decipher between what you want and what you need, it becomes easier to choose things that will refill your body and mind, rather than drain them.
In a society filled with cheap entertainment, what are you choosing to focus your energy on?
Try swapping a Netflix binge for an inspirational book. Instead of falling down the “Explore” page “hole,” go out and actually explore nature.
You’ll quickly discover that finding meaningful things to do and see isn’t hard. In fact, the world has so much more to offer you than what you see on the recommended page.
I was in a Res-Life meeting when the topic of rest was brought up. Until then, I thought rest was achieved only through sleep or lounging around in your pajamas.
I was under the false assumption that the less we do, the more rested we feel. Unfortunately, this often results in entire weekends wasted and a feeling of insignificance.
I listened as my friends told stories of hiking, journaling and volunteering—all of these activities left them with more energy than the activity required.
This conversation challenged me to redefine my idea of rest in a way that also inspired me to fill my life with things that truly mattered.
When I’m overwhelmed or in need of rest, I remember that old rope swing that meant so much to me while I was growing up. I spent countless hours on that swing—each time, it allowed me to rest.
Now, it serves as a reminder to take a step back and permit time for meaningful rest.
Whether in small-groups, one-on-ones, loud concerts or practice rooms, redefining rest may vary from person to person.
My advice to you is to find what refills your soul and pursue it. This is where you will experience rest.