Rest

With each passing day the sun comes up a little later and goes down a little sooner.  The pace of farm life, while still very busy, is starting to slow down.  Nature is moving toward a period of rest.

Rest is an important part of the natural cycle.  Plants become dormant, animals go into hibernation.

We incorporate periods of rest into our garden rotations here.

And I try to build a time for rest into every day.  A few years ago I started the practice of taking a 20 minute period of rest after lunch.  Sometimes I nap.  Other times I just lie resting.  Either way I find the break refreshing and I’ve become so accustomed to it that I feel tired in the afternoon if I don’t have it.

In some religious traditions a period of rest is a sacred time.  Like the rest of the natural world, we need our rest.

It’s very difficult to incorporate a time of rest into the hectic workdays of most lives. I can’t imagine taking a 20 minute nap in the afternoon when I was practicing law.  If I felt tired then I’d just have another cup of coffee.

But now I’m an advocate of rest.  If you’re not already doing this, try stopping and resting quietly for 20 minutes in the afternoon.  Taking a 20 minute break won’t make much difference in the amount of work you’ll be able to accomplish in a day, but my guess is that the folks who find a way to do it will feel a lot better and probably end up being more productive than those who don’t.

20 comments on “Rest

  1. shoreacres says:

    How often do you get 100% agreement from me? Well, you just got it. A long time ago, a Catholic lay sister led a retreat I attended, and she recommended even for us worldly sorts this routine: an hour a day, a day a week, a week a year, all devoted to whatever we determined best fed our bodies and souls. It might be napping, or meditating, or reading — whatever.

    I never adopted that in any formal sense, but the wisdom is plain. Especially from June-September, there’s no way I can work “straight through” without exhausting myself in the heat. I’ll work two or three hours, then take an hour before going back out. Starting early and working late makes those breaks possible, and I do end up getting more done, not less. Sometimes, I’ll even do something like grocery shopping, which puts me into the air conditioning for a time. In the heat of summer, that can be as refreshing as a nap, and has the additional virtue of crossing a chore off my list.

    And people say there aren’t any benefits accruing to the self-employed!

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve never gotten into a formal pattern of resting either. For a while I tried not working in the gardens on Sundays, but soon realized I was depriving myself of one of my favorite things to do. Vacations are hard for farmers to manage, but I’d like to get back into the practice of taking a full week or two off. As Dave and others mention, siestas are a part of the culture in some places. It makes perfect sense to take the kind of breaks you mention and it doesn’t surprise me that you end up getting more done that way. I especially like the idea of using the break periods to get other important things done–that way of thinking fits my personality. 🙂

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  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I have traveled all through Central America and lived in Germany for a year and a half when in the military. Many of those places close all the stores from Noon to 2pm. It’s a time when they rest. Those countries work at a much slower pace than Americans. We think that if we take time to rest that we are wasting time when more productive things could be done. In my current season of life when bodily endurance has decreased, I find that listening to my body has it’s benefits. Instead of just pushing through the last stages of a project before resting, I rest when I feel the need. Even if there’s only five or ten minutes left, the rest is better than straining a muscle. Before retirement, I was always in a hurry to get things done because there was always more on the list to do and not enough time to get them done. Now, I’ve learned there’s always tomorrow. Another key was if I didn’t have the time to get it all done, then I just wouldn’t do any of it. I’ve learned even if it takes several days to get something accomplished, to do a little something each day and soon the task will be completed. Procrastination was my biggest enemy. Resting now for me is an integrated necessity through out the day. Maybe not a nap but rest just the same. It’s a good time to just sit and enjoy nature at its finest.

    Have a great day of resting times.

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    • Bill says:

      Traveling in Spain and coming to appreciate their siestas is one of the things that caused me to adopt this practice. Of course as you say it’s two hours there, not just 20 minutes. Unfortunately I read recently that the midday siestas are dying out in Spain, thanks to their starting to follow the American workday practices and because now both spouses tend to work outside the home.

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  3. bobraxton says:

    meaning Genesis 1 or Genesis 2 – culmination of Creation is Sabbath

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  4. Like Dave, I’ve been many places where the streets are empty (except of tourists), and businesses shut down for a couple of hours from noon to two. In some places that means they stay open a little later, others it doesn’t. And he’s right, the pace seems a little less hectic – even in busy cities, like Rome (OK, maybe not the officials in the train station or the airport – they’re pretty energetic, but everyone else!). I love Shoreacres idea of an hour a day, a day a week, a week a year. This year was one of those years when I felt a jump in my physical age – and was pretty much forced to do what she does – start earlier, take a break for a few hours at the height of the day, and work in the evening again. I definitely feel like I got more done this way than when I tried to push my way through last year. My Mum was like you – she could take a 20 min nap and wake refreshed. 20 minutes does not cut it for me – I’ve only just lined up my couch, my tea and my book!

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    • Bill says:

      My Grandpa would lay now on the couch after lunch every day and sleep exactly 20 minutes. He never set an alarm. He just knew when to get up. Years after seeing him do that every day I read that 20 minutes is the ideal nap time. Any less and you’re not rested. Any more and you’ll be drowsy. He must have figured that out on his own.

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  5. avwalters says:

    Caught me at just the right time, I was wondering if it’d be okay to stop for a nap.

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  6. EllaDee says:

    I’m a cat-napper. I too can close my eyes for 20 mins in the afternoon – when I’m at work it’s also coffee for me – and wake up fresh ready to go again. I sleep on planes, trains and automobiles and well at night. All of which I’m grateful for 🙂

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  7. dan says:

    A1970s book entitled When I Relax I Feel Guilty made the point about cycles of rest and activity and advocated even pauses each hour and minute. Some of us get too intense and focused that we make those around us tense and unfocused. Look around occasionally and appreciate the wonder in our context, whether indoors or out. Thanks for a great post.

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    • Bill says:

      The title of that book makes me smile. I used to feel that way. “Relaxing” meant laziness and saying you were tired suggested weakness and a lack of proper intensity. I’m not as good as I need to be but I’m much better than I used to be and still trying to improve. I’ve learned that there is no reason to feel guilty about relaxing (even if I still don’t do it enough).

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  8. Timing on this post is perfect. My friend has been encouraging me to meditate a few minutes everyday as I am one of those people that just keeps on keepin’ on until all of the tasks are completed. I worked at law firms for about 25 years and although I think I have slowed down a bit since then, I have a hard time leaving some stones unturned.
    Thanks for opening – or should I say “closing” my eyes?!?!

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    • Bill says:

      I do strongly recommend building a time of relaxation into your schedule–even it it’s only 20 minutes. Now I try to treat that as something that’s not optional. It is every bit as important as my work.

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  9. Got to have my afternoon nap. It’s one of the benefits of being retired. 🙂 But I do get up at 5:30 every morning to write. I earn my nap! 🙂 –Curt

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