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172: Why Do We Avoid Rest? Understanding and Getting Past Our Excuses

Do you avoid rest, even though you know you need rest and God says the sabbath is important? You keep on working, never stopping, always going from one thing to the next, but you feel burnout creeping in. Since rest is a normal human need, why do we make excuses about rest, push ourselves to exhaustion, and rarely prioritize rest, even though we need it? 

Using biblical truth and brain science, let’s talk about the surprising issue behind why it’s hard to find rest and gain new perspective on what’s behind our excuses not to rest. I want to give you practical ways to move past these limiting beliefs that keep us from rest so you can avoid burnout! PLUS: Don’t miss a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT at the end of the episode!

Are you avoiding rest even though you need it? Many of us struggle with making rest a reality. Let’s talk about practical ways to overcome the mindset patterns that keep us from resting so that we can enjoy God’s gift of sabbath and avoid burnout.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • [3:46] Understanding that rest is normal and my personal struggle with lack of rest and high stress
  • [8:49] How do we recognize that it is time to rest?
  • [10:06] The Biblical concept of rest and its importance in God’s word
  • [17:26] The 7 limiting beliefs that hold us back from actually resting
    • [19:06] Fear of resting and not being able to get things done
    • [22:12] Fear of looking weak or broken by ourselves and others in society
    • [23:36] Fear of making excuses around why you don’t want to work hard
    • [24:55] Fear that God will not take care of us
    • [25:59] Fear of our identity in that we place our worth in busy work
    • [27:20] Fear of being bored
    • [30:55] Fear that there is no value in rest
  • [34:58] My huge announcement of taking a sabbatical for July and August 2022 

[3:46] Understanding that rest is normal and my personal struggle with lack of rest and high stress

We need to hear that rest is normal. Rest is a normal human need that we must satisfy. When we don’t meet our body’s need for rest, it will find a way to make rest happen.

If you have followed me for a while or listened to some of the past episodes, you know that this is part of my own story of how I became a mindset coach and why I focus on these deeper issues behind why we do what we do. You can hear the full story in Ep 125: How the Hustle Culture + My Need to Achieve Nearly Took My Life.

Around five years ago, I almost lost my life due to a lack of rest and self care. I pushed myself way beyond my physical and emotional limits, often only sleeping four hours a night, and it really took a toll on my body. 

I got to the point where I didn’t feel tired from being overworked and overburdened. Ultimately this lack of self care resulted in a dramatic medical crisis: two vertebral artery dissections. This injury usually comes from high stress involved in a car accident or extreme sports, but I had allowed my body to get to that point of excessive stress and lack of rest, and as a result, my body chemistry was literally destroying itself from the inside and threatening my life. 

The doctors couldn’t explain why an otherwise healthy 42-year-old woman would have this condition. I knew why it happened, though, because God tried telling me for the longest time to rest. While I was recovering in the hospital I felt God clearly say to me, “This is your second chance, and there will not be a third. Are you going to pay attention to me and choose to build rest into your life?”

Before this medical crisis I wore my lack of rest and ability to endure as a badge of honor, but for whom? This journey helped me discover I didn’t need the top ten hacks to keep my house organized. Instead, I needed to address some underlying issues around rest and my belief that I didn’t need replenishment. This experience took eight months, and if you want to hear more about this journey and how it lead me to become a NeuroCoach, check out episode 125

This issue is something that many of us face, yet we aren’t taught how to rest. In today’s society, our culture doesn’t promote rest or how to balance between taking care of our bodies and striving to be our best. The holistic ways of caring for ourselves as God calls us to aren’t being modeled for us. We may see the end result of what someone on Instagram achieved, but we don’t see the struggles or pain they face to keep up with everyone else. It’s time we allow ourselves to honor a life of rest in all areas of our lives.

[8:49] How do we recognize that it is time to rest?

First, we must learn to recognize the signs that our body needs rest, and honor these rest signals as healthy and normal. Many of us don’t recognize the need for rest because our bodies are just constantly on and running. Likewise, we aren’t paying attention to how depleted our bodies feel, and we don’t make taking care of ourselves a true priority. 

For the longest time, that was my life. I had young kids (one with special needs), my husband was traveling a lot, and I was doing all sorts of projects independently. Plus I was also homeschooling four kids! So I believed that I had no other choice but to keep going and to never rest.

[10:06] What Does the Bible Say About Rest?

Wonder what God thinks about rest, and specifically sabbath? Here are some Bible verses on sabbath and rest. It’s important for us to recognize that God is on our side when it comes to our desire to rest. He made us to be creatures with times when we're working hard and times when we're resting.

Genesis 2:2

First, we learn that God rested from working on the seventh day of creation. This means we need to refuel and replenish ourselves after a huge work output.

Exodus 16:23

Rest is making room for overflow. We fill our days with all the activities, yet we don’t make space for margin. Therefore, rest requires preparation beforehand to enjoy our day of rest fully. 

Exodus 23:10-12

Why would God encourage the ancient Israelites to let their land lie uncultivated? Why wouldn't he just say, “Keep producing, keep going so that you can make more money to support yourself?” These are the kinds of things we tell ourselves in modern culture, but He wanted them to let their land be renewed and lie uncultivated. In verse 12, God tells them they have a six-day work week to finish ordinary tasks, but on the seventh day, they must stop working. Your animals get a chance to rest along with your slaves and any foreigners living among you. Refreshment comes for everyone involved in all that we do. We are made to have cycles of activity and downtime because it replenishes all creatures for ongoing work. 

Exodus 34:21

This one convicts me because I think rest is only important when I don't have anything else to do. However, that’s not what God is saying to do here. Even if you are in a busy season of life, God wants us to rest. How can that be? We need to have these rhythms of stopping, replenishing, and letting ourselves be filled up. We cannot serve well and accomplish everything we're called to do if we do those things from an empty bucket.

To close up this conversation on rest, there is an excellent book on rest called Sacred Rest by Dr. Sandra Dalton-Smith, and Dr. Sandra was a guest on the podcast for Episode 149, which was all about finding rest, even when you aren’t sure how to make it happen.

If you’re curious about more ideas on how to make rest a reality, I recommend these podcast episodes on rest for more insight:

[17:26] 7 Limiting Beliefs That Keep Us From Resting

What keeps us from resting? What limiting beliefs around rest are holding us back from doing creating rhythms of rest? As I list these limiting beliefs about rest, I encourage you to look at each one and ask yourself, “Do I have these mindsets about rest?”

Also, I encourage you to let go of judgment as you look at these limiting beliefs about rest because it will be much more effective if we can view them instead with kindness, and objectivity, almost like a scientist doing an experiment.

[19:06] Fear of resting and not being able to get things done

We have a fear of not being able to get everything done. We think that if we take a break or rest, who will take care of everything? The fear that everything won’t get done makes sense, but do we actually stop when we feel like everything is done? There will always be something to do next.

There comes a point where we have to recognize that we may not ever get it all done. We have to stop waiting for the idea that it has to all be done for us to say, “now I can finally rest.” Let's not forget that in Exodus 34:21, even during these busy seasons, there is always an opportunity to get replenishment to do our job well.

[22:12] Fear of looking weak or broken by ourselves and others in society

Sometimes we feel like we’ve failed or that we could have planned better, so if we need to rest it must mean that we’ve done something wrong. In a loving and kind way, we need to take a step back to ask ourselves what this is about. Are we worried that others will think we’ve failed? We can pinpoint the reasons behind this fear.

[23:36] Fear of making excuses around why you don’t want to work hard

If you are a recovering perfectionist like me, then maybe you hear that little voice in your head telling you that you are lazy and that’s why you need to rest. You may tell yourself that by resting you’re making excuses to avoid important tasks. While important tasks do need to get done, the question remains: “Is this vital? How can we still get done the important things while still making space for rest and replenishment?”

We must recognize these moments when we need to breathe and take a break. It is vital to our ability to keep pushing through. 

[24:55] Fear that God will not take care of us

This goes down deep to trust issues and to trust God will provide and still meet our needs. This is especially applicable when we think about work. This isn’t to say that we should take a break from income-producing activities because we believe that God will provide. But we must balance our need to work with the truth that as we gain more replenishment we will be stronger to do the work God has for us. 

[25:59] Fear of not appearing worthy because we’ve linked our worth with our work

Who am I? That is the question at hand when we put our worth into our work. We feel a sense of pride in doing what we're doing. What is my foundation? What makes me secure? These are profound questions, but they're all the things that are rattling in our heads behind why we're running from our identity. 

Subconsciously, our mind is like we want to run from pain and run towards pleasure. If we have attached our worth to being busy, we think we're making excuses if we stop. It may seem like the end of the world to us because our brain attaches self-sabotaging thoughts to keep us safe in our identity of work. We need to recognize that.

[27:20] Fear of being bored

This fear of rest sounds so weird, but it's true. As a society, we have not learned what it means to really replenish ourselves in everyday life. This journey will be personal for each of us to discover what it truly means for us. I encourage you to listen to Episode 171 because we talked about the idea of having fun and exploring what lights us up and how those things aren't bad, but instead, they're meant to be fuel to keep us serving well.

It's normal to feel afraid of rest. For me, especially, resting was excruciating and boring in those eight or nine months after my medical crisis. However, I’ve become more comfortable with rest as I’ve experimented with different ways to add rest to my regular rhythms.. I encourage you to experiment with restful activities, to keep showing up, and know that it does become less scary to step into rest. It is definitely possible to get over the hump of being bored.

[30:55] Fear that there is no value in rest

Our culture does not emphasize downtime as valuable. Instead, we emphasize being productive and getting results. To get where you want to be, we’re told we have to hustle non-stop, but it’s also important to rest and obey the laws of nature God created. 

We need times to replenish, reflect, let God fill us up, and use us in different ways. Exodus 23:10-12 explains it well in that planting and harvesting your crops for six years allows your land to be renewed in the seventh year. Those first six years provide for you and your family, but that seventh year provides for the wild animals and provides downtime for you. 

This downtime allows us to emerge stronger, more capable humans. So when it comes to the struggles you face in rest, I encourage you to see if some of these resonated with you. If they did, sit down, write some of these ideas down, and see what comes to you in a journal or before the Lord in prayer. Then, ask God to help you learn more about yourself to work through these things.

Take responsibility for your mental health and your rest levels. COVID allowed many of us to unplug and reassess what's important. So what will you do to replenish and be your best self for the long haul? I encourage you to be honest about the excuses and fears and honor them. You can begin today to take positive steps toward making rest a regular part of your life!

[34:58] HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT: My Sabbatical from Podcasting in July and August 2022

In order to practice what I preach about rest, I am honoring my own commitment to rest by taking a sabbatical break from the podcast in July and August 2022. That means that there will not be any new podcast episodes in July and August. However, I will be back in September 2022 (and we’ve already recorded many of the great podcast episodes for this fall… I can’t wait to share them with you)!

I recognize that I have been putting out a lot of work in the past year or two, and honestly, it's starting to take a toll on me. I'm noticing the signs of burnout, and I don't want to get to where I was a few years ago when God physically made me stop. 

I have had two major projects in the past nine months: the Christian Mindset Makeover and the Calm Your Anxiety Tool Kit. In addition, I put together a book proposal, and am working through the journey of becoming a traditionally published author, which has been my dream for a long time. There are so many other things I have going on in this busy season of life as well, including many personal life trials with family. It’s time to let God fill me up so I can serve you well from the overflow.

In the meantime, I will still be doing a few free trainings on how to manage your thoughts during this sabbatical! You can go to VibrantChristianLiving.com/mind to see what days and times are available for these free trainings. 

And of course I will still continue to support my coaching clients and those in the Christian Mindset Makeover during this time. 

If you feel called to rest, I encourage you to consider the excuses coming up for yourself and take action on those. If you decide to take a step towards rest, big or small, reach out on Instagram. I would love to cheer you on in your rest journey!

I look forward to connecting with you again in our next podcast episode in September!

Free Anxiety Workshop (for Calm Your Anxiety Mindset Tool Kit):

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3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible

Do you struggle with worry and anxiety? You’re not alone—Anxiety is arguably the #1 mental health issue today, even for Christians.

As a former anxiety sufferer (and a NeuroCoach that’s worked with 100s of women) I’ve learned that we need practical mindset TOOLS (based on both brain science and God’s word) to get His calming TRUTH into our thoughts.

That’s why I host my FREE anxiety workshop: 3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible… and you’re invited to join me!

CLICK HERE to sign up now for this FREE anxiety workshop.

 

About Alicia Michelle

Alicia Michelle is a certified NeuroCoach™, Bible teacher, speaker and host of The Christian Mindset Coach Podcast and You Tube Show. More importantly, she’s a lover of Jesus, a wife of 21 years to her best friend, and mom of four amazing kids ages 19 to 10. Alicia struggled with overthinking, negative thoughts and “being enough” for most of her adult life until God radically transformed her heart after a life-threatening medical crisis. Now through her signature courses and coaching programs she loves equipping women with practical, scientific and biblically-based mindset tools to help them overcome negative thought patterns and discover more confident, joyful lives in Christ. Listen to her on the podcast or on You Tube; download free workshop trainings at VibrantChristianLiving.com; and connect on Facebook and Instagram.

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