Writers Need Rest to Maintain Their Creativity, Part 1

Summer is a time to kick back and catch up on some much-needed rest—right? But summer can be even busier—VBS at your church, a child who belongs to a soccer club that travels. Or perhaps you’re painting your house this summer.  

And what about those summer vacations? A beach or mountain get-away could be restful. But to get there you may need to fly, braving airport crowds and last-minute delays. Or if you decide on a road trip, you may have to listen to the unhappy noises coming from the little humans (or dogs) strewing gold fish crumbs across the backseat.     

But there’s hope. Though your summer may be busy, it is often a change of pace, and a break from normal activities can be a kind of rest. Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, speaker and author of Sacred Rest, Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity, and other books, believes there are actually 7 areas in which we may need rest.  

The doctor urges us to assess these 7 different areas of our lives to see if we’re overstretched and ignoring the signals our bodies give us. The signals could range from muscle pains and lack of focus to feeling distant from God or others. In this post my corgi Molly is going to help me tell you a little about 4 of the areas we may need rest in. In the next post we’ll look at the other 3 areas in which we can find rest and refreshment and maintain our creativity.

Rest Is Different from Sleep

Molly Loves to sleep!

Usually when we think of rest we think of sleep, and we do have a biological need for good sleep, but Dr. Dalton-Smith, a Christian internist, says, “Good quality sleep trickles down from a life well-rested . . . . Sleep is solely a physical activity. Rest, however, penetrates into the spiritual. Rest speaks peace into the daily storms your mind, body, and spirit encounter. Rest is what makes sleep sweet.” (Quote from Sacred Rest)

Dr. Dalton-Smith also emphasizes that rest isn’t stopping all activity, as we sometimes believe. “Resting doesn’t require us to be in a state of sleep.” Instead, it’s activities to “revive the parts of our life we regularly deplete.” (Quote from Sacred Rest)

4 Areas Where We May Need Rest

1.Physical Rest

Does your job require a lot of physical work, such as lifting and carrying or have you been painting a room or raking leaves all day? If so, you may need some physical rest. But before you sleep, which is a needed passive rest, Dr. Dalton-Smith urges you to first take a page from athletes and do some active rest such as slow stretching, a slow walk to pray or enjoy the outdoors, a warm bath, or breathing exercises.

Molly likes a day at the spa with a soothing bath and brushing!

2.Mental Rest

Is there always too much to-do left on your list at the end of most days? Or as the day goes on, you have reduced concentration and make more mistakes? If you spend a lot of time at a desk or in a hurry-up, get-it-done-now type of job, you may need more mental rest than you’re allowing yourself. Your job probably isn’t going away, so you need to learn to build in short but regular daily ways to refresh your brain. Dr. Dalton-Smith recommends taking 5 minutes every hour or so to stretch or meditate on Scripture. That’s good for your body as well as your mind. Or take a longer walk sometimes. Break up harder mental tasks with easier ones. Do the harder tasks when you’re fresh, then take a break.

Molly loves to smell the flowers!

3.Emotional Rest

Are you often trying to meet other’s expectations at home or at work, and perhaps feeling inadequate to meet those expectations? Do you sometimes pretend to be someone else in order to fit in? If that’s often you, you may need emotional rest. We all have those times, but if we never give ourselves time to relax away from such situations, we can get emotionally drained. We need times around people who understand and accept us as we are.

Molly likes to kick back and just be herself!

4.Social Rest

I like Dr. Dalton-Smith’s take on social needs, “too often these virtual relationships become more about striving than rest. We are not designed to bring all these people into our homes daily and interact with their every moment. We are designed to have an inner circle of relationships from which all other relationships flow.” To some extent we all need and want to engage in some of these virtual relationships, but Dalton-Smith’s advice is to prioritize face-to-face relationships that help us feel loved and valued and are there for us in difficult times. They help us know we’re not alone.

Molly loves hanging out with friends!

Molly and Amber

Finding Rest amidst Your Writing

We writers often try to do it all, and making the choice to rest when we need to is hard in our culture of busyness and productivity. We struggle to juggle families, jobs, and writing time. But as Christians we also know that rest is important, and we have God’s own example of that in Genesis 2:2 when He rested from His work of creation.

As you pursue your writing goals, what ways have you found helpful to rest your body, mind, emotions or the social side of writing so you can maintain your creativity?

And stay tuned for my August post that discusses 3 other areas we may need rest in.

The 7 Types of rest are taken from Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book, Sacred Rest, Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.

Kathy O’Neill grew up in Maine. She loves the Lord and His gifts of family, pets, and walks on the beach when storms send waves crashing against the rocks. As a teacher, writer, and speaker, she enjoys engaging children’s and adult’s hearts and hands to discover God and their own creativity through art, history, and nature. Kathy has written for The Quiet Hour, Light from the Word, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, Highlights,DevoKids,Clubhouse Jr., Starlight, and Appleseeds. Visit her website http://www.kathy-oneill.com/ to discover fun activities and workshops.

6 thoughts on “Writers Need Rest to Maintain Their Creativity, Part 1

  1. Molly is a fun example of resting! Thanks for this blog. And this is why we need our Sabbath rest!

  2. I like your four areas of rest – now to just DO it! And Molly is a very cute example. I will try the 5 minutes of meditating on a scripture passage today, maybe before or after I take my walk. Thanks for these. Looking forward to the next three.

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