How to Rest When You Can't

11:28 AM

Any chance I get, I flop onto my bed and stare. Unfinished homework, unwritten papers, people I haven't talked with, questions I haven't answered all drains away into the fuzzy blue bedspread. I can lie there for hours.

Except that I can't, because I'm a full-time student whose only real break comes when exhaustion forces her to take a quick seven hour nap around 1 a.m.

Still, I'm learning to rest amid all the Constitution reading, seminar papers, and Tower Dancer rehearsals.

Rest became redefined for me. It no longer means nine solid hours of sleep at night. It no longer means naps. It no longer means just five minutes of quiet in a homework-free zone.

It means wholeness. It means becoming a person again -- becoming Bailey again -- becoming filled again with my true passion, Jesus, and all He's made me to be. Stress and busyness tends to rattle out any last vestiges of myself, turning me into a machine that churns out assignment after assignment with a timer ticking down to the next deadline. I didn't realize how bad it was until my boy told me to stop checking my phone's clock every thirty seconds at lunch (even though I'd set an alarm for my next class). You have time. Eat your food. Be in the moment. Chill.

I had become enslaved, dehumanized.

Here's how I'm learning to rest -- to become whole, to become me again.

1. Get up thirty minutes earlier than normal. This seemed counterintuitive to me. I'm one of those obnoxious people who literally needs twelve hours of sleep to get through a day. If I don't get enough sleep, I slowly grind down into a blubbering, emotional mess. To sacrifice thirty precious minutes of sleep -- that's crazy for someone already struggling get the bare minimum. But listen to me, you skeptical night owls -- having a morning makes me feel alive again. I can sit there in my bed and just be. I can eat breakfast. I can leisurely brush my teeth. I can bond with my roomie as she French braids my hair. I can have much more time to wake up, to think -- a sacred place where deadlines, classes, and homework have not, dare not, tread.

2. Make prayer a priority. Everyone says pray and read your Bible, pray and read your Bible, pray and read your Bible -- in the morning. Well, it's true. Lounging in pajamas while passionately spilling out my heart is hands down the surest way to wholeness. Do it.

3. Take long, hot showers. I rush through basic things -- sleeping, eating, daily hygiene. Slowing them down, letting them sink in, enjoying them gives me this idea that I'm not a robot recharging my batteries. I'm a human created to delight in simple things -- like picking out cute outfits (don't laugh at me, Claire) and leaving enough time at lunch for dessert.

4. Move. I dance twice a week and do Pilates on Mondays. I crave those times to stretch, move, and wriggle back into my skin -- and I used to hate exercise of any kind. It still boggles my mind how much energy, life, and humanity comes from repeating physical movements. Maybe it's like a counterstretch to living in my brain all the time.

5. Nap less and do more. I don't mean more busyness -- do more of what I love. Write a note to my little sister. Blog. Read silly bestsellers about cyborgs. Listen to music. Play piano. Anything different from academics and the same old, same old. Anything that breaks up the pathetic routine of classes, homework, and crashing randomly throughout the day.

6. Laugh. Really hard, long, and preferably rolling around on the floor while tears stream down my face.

7. PEOPLE. I love talking with people. I love hanging out with them and playing games. I love watching movies when there's a chorus of laughter or a witty Peanut Gallery commenting on Hollywood sappiness. I love study parties where nothing gets done except drawing on chalkboards, wrestling matches, blasting music, and intense discussions. That more than anything makes me feel real. #extrovert

8. Alone time. With my bed. Awake and doing nothing.

9. Love. I cherish being loved on and loving my closest friends -- even when it's hard.

10. Purpose. Having a bigger overarching project gives so much perspective on the mundane aspects of life. Job hunting, filming and editing a video for Spanish, or running around campus getting people to sign encouragement cards for an overworked friend puts me right back to being Bailey again -- creative, on fire, and tireless.

p.s. These are my college peeps -- my bestest friends ever. And this video is typical of our interactions.

11. Cut out the things that don't really matter. Including homework. I'm a perfectionist. I get stellar grades. And I'm letting go of the pursuit of the 4.0 to pursue life. I refuse to stay up super late completing unimportant tasks. Some reading doesn't get done. Sometimes I study for only a couple days instead of all week for midterms. Sometimes papers don't get my entire attention for a weekend. Sometimes I put resting -- as defined above -- in place of restless perfectionism.

I haven't regretted it once.

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7 impressions

  1. Cute video. :-) I think you have a very healthy perspective on life almost halfway through college.

    Good luck on your job search!


  2. Oh. My. Goodness. This is what I needed right now. THank you so, so much for this, Bailey.

  3. I love you Bailey!
    This was (I'm sorry) very funny!
    But, how in the world did you compile that video? Did you have someone follow you around the campus?!?!
    Getting up earlier, my Mom told me that today as well.. so I'll take the hint. Goodnight!
    Hope you're having an awesome break! :)

  4. You are so cute Bailey :-) That video.....too funny....

  5. Emily -- it's all entirely staged. ;) My roommie's dad filmed most of the group scenes, and we got random people or friends to film other stuff. Or I just set the camera on a shelf (or a precarious stack of boxes and paper towels) and filmed myself. :)

  6. That video was the most adorable thing ever!

    And thank you for all that good advice. Maybe I should follow some of it.


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