Respite and Rhythms of Rest
Author: Beth Runkle
As a teacher, you might have a plant in your classroom. It brings a sense of life to a school atmosphere and helps you and your students feel at home.
Imagine yourself as one of two different plants. One has dropped most of its crinkly, withering leaves and has turned brown. Its stem feels brittle. The other plant is a vibrant mix of dark and light green foliage, which is shiny, bright, smooth, and not easily broken. Which plant do you resemble?
If we don’t regularly and consistently care for ourselves, we can be like a dying plant. Neglecting yourself can cause you to run out of physical, emotional, and spiritual life.
Challenge yourself to see true refreshment as a necessary part of your life. Remember you are a human with limitations. As an educator, there is no limit to activities that occupy your schedule. Lesson planning, teaching, grading homework, encouraging students, correcting negative behavior, and meeting with parents—are all important, but so is your own respite.
Rest should be a part of, not an escape from your life. It is the most underused discipline of modern-day man. Most individuals have a significant rest deficit. Time out should be restorative and rejuvenating for all parts of you – body, soul, and mind.
Is watching the news or scrolling social media relaxing? If not, determine what would be refreshing for you. Consider these suggestions:
- Spend time quietly in nature– take in the beauty of your surroundings.
- Pursue solitude. Music can help shift your thoughts from worries.
- Surround yourself with supportive relationships. Limit relationships that drain you.
- Practice joy. Make time to celebrate special days and events with family and friends.
- Nurture your spiritual life to bring peace. Consider contemplating sacred Scripture and other sources of inspiration.
Healthy plants are cared for on a regular schedule. To consistently give your body the refreshment it needs, you’ll need to schedule regular times of relaxation.
- Take several five-minute breaks throughout the day. Move your eyes away from what you were working on and focus on objects around the room. Get up from your desk and move your body and mind away from the cares of the moment. Go for a walk outside. Breathe in, hold it for ten seconds, then exhale.
- Once a week give yourself a sabbath (day off). Your body needs a literal 24-hour period in which you don’t stress or feel like you should be productive. You’ll have to be intentional to make this happen, so schedule it.
- Take a half-day once a month to focus only on your personal rejuvenation. Normal household chores can call to you, so get away from the house to a city park or similar place. Your break may or may not include family and friends, but plan for some special getaway.
- Once per year, take a real vacation. Consider something that will be truly restorative for you. Unplug from your devices and turn on your “out-of-office” notifications for your email.
When it comes to rest, we often have a false view of what that means. If you don’t take some time out to restore and refresh, you’ll find yourself like a dying plant. You want to be a vibrant and healthy teacher who can invest in students and families for years to come. Take time to establish rhythms of rest.
For more tips on self-care, see our blog post, “Put on your Own Oxygen Mask First.”
Beth is experienced with transition and adjusting to change because she’s moved 14 times as her husband served in the military. Beth discovered the joy of writing when teaching her children to write as part of homeschooling. Her husband recently retired from the Air Force. Beth and her husband now serve as mentors for married couples at military bases in the western United States. She and her husband have two kids in college.