This summer, I have been on a sabbatical from my work as a counselor. After a couple year stint of intense workload as well as personal and global stressors, I was recognizing some significant burn-out. (It is humbling to prioritize your own mental health while working in the mental health field!)
In total I have had 10 weeks off of seeing clients, and I have to say – it has not been all fun and games like I thought. It turns out – rest is actually hard. As I’ve navigated my own exploration of rest and healing, I’ve found that others have a difficult time resting too.
So, here are some things I’m learning about rest in my own experience. I hope that it can help you to think about your own as well.
1. Rest doesn’t always feel good.
In order to prioritize what my body, mind, and soul have needed in this season, there’s been a lot of not-so-fun things that accompanied it. I’ve had to say “no” to things that sounded fun. I’ve had to draw higher boundaries in relationships than I typically do. I’ve sacrificed income and financial comforts. I’ve had to sit still and recognize some of the dynamics in my world that would be easier to not look at. There have been a lot of things that have just not felt so good, but that were necessary for making the space I knew I needed to rest.
All in all – rest has actually required work. I had to make a plan, and then once I knew my plan I’ve had to work to defend it. I’ve had to press through the discomfort that came with slowing down. Rest hasn’t always felt good- but the long game will make it worth it!
2. It’s a slow process.
Two weeks into my break, I felt worse than I had before it started. My body seemed to be quite literally in a detox. It wasn’t until a full 8 weeks into sabbatical that I began to recognize I might be coming to life a little bit. In hindsight, I should have known that years of stress wouldn’t dissolve in a couple of days. It’s hard to be doing all the work we just talked about but not feel the effects.
For me, this has been a process of hoping that the Lord would do a restoring work in me with time as I put one foot in front of the other attempting to be faithful to His command of sabbath. I may not have felt the instant gratification or relief in a moment, but the combined efforts over months have produced an outcome of a healthier person at the end.
3. You may need help resting.
There has been an entire team of people restoring me physically, mentally and spiritually. I have gone to my own counseling, multiple doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, gym classes, etc. One of the most helpful structures to my time away has been an accountability partner and sabbatical advisor. At the beginning of my time off I felt overwhelmed even thinking about how to start “resting”.
What should my time look like? What is restful to me? How am I actually doing? Having a friend who can talk through these things with me, hold me to it, and offer their own outside input has been invaluable. The reality is, I couldn’t even figure out how to rest on my own.
I needed the help of others to stand in the gaps for me – meeting needs, known and unknown to me, and helping to restore me back to who God is shaping me to be.
4. You’re a human. It’s a season.
This last one has been hard for me to accept – but I’m just a human. I’m limited and my capacity varies and changes in different seasons. It’s okay that I can’t do it all. I’ve struggled with not being able to do all the things I want to or that are important to me. I’ve had to ask for grace and be more vulnerable about how I’m doing than I would like to. I’ve had to take 10 steps back from my phone and learn that it’s okay if someone is disappointed with me. It won’t be like this forever- and one day I’ll be able to step back into the activities and roles that I value. Because I’m just a person, it doesn’t benefit me or others to keep pushing myself so far beyond my capacity. So, I’m learning to let this season be what it is and to normalize my humanity for what it is.
I am well-aware that not everyone can take 10 weeks away from one of their primary responsibilities. It has been a unique privilege that is not lost on me to take this opportunity for a sabbatical. But I share all of this because each of these things I’ve learned are things I also hope to apply to my life now that I am back to work. Each of these things are lessons that I will carry forward into future seasons. They are my own experiences, and yours will be as unique as you are- I’m sure. But I hope that as I’m learning, we might learn together. Have you learned anything similar or different about resting? Feel free to share in the comments below.
If you, like me, need a little help and input in learning about rest for yourself then Crossroads is here to help. Our counselors can walk with you as you navigate your current season and begin exploring what rest can look like for you. Reach out at (225) 341-4147 to set up an appointment.