During December I will sprinkle throughout the month a few posts regarding key lessons learned for the past year. I’ll kick off the lessons with this post on the subject of rest.
I have noticed both my body and mind yearning for more rest than I’ve given them this year. Even though I have intentionally worked at sleeping at least six hours per night, I know that isn’t enough. It may be more than any recent year in memory when the average was closer to five hours, but if I listen to what the ol’ bod is saying, I have to conclude that somewhere between 7-8 hours per night is what I need these days. That will be reflected in the goals I set for 2014.
Besides sleeping, though, I need more unscheduled down time than I’ve given myself. It’s nice to have ambitious goals at work and outside of work and feel the accomplishment their achievement brings. However, there are too many days when I grow weary of a self-imposed task list that would require me to keep going late into the evening and throughout the weekends if I really did everything on the list. I need time to chill, relax, do something fun and spontaneous or just veg in front of the TV or play with my dog for a while. Doing so rests not only the body but the mind, and rejuvenates the spirit. It contributes to overall well-being in a way that constant activity cannot.
I’ve long had feelings of guilt if I relax too much, so changing that will be an adjustment for me. I’ll really have to battle guilt when I reduce the goals and tasks in 2014 and intentionally increase the hours of sleep and unscheduled fun and relaxation, but I must overcome that in the long-term interest of better health – physical, mental and spiritual.
The title of this post may include the phrase “lesson learned,” but it remains to be seen whether I’ve really learned it or not. I know it, but I will only prove that I’ve learned it and care about it when I change the behavior. Since I do care about my wellness, I believe I’ll do better in 2014, but I have to quantify what that looks like in goals and then make sure I do it. One more hour of sleep and one less hour of structured evening tasks daily equals 14 hours per week of less activity than what I’m doing now. That has to come from somewhere, so the challenge will be in deciding what goes away. Fortunately, I have the rest of the month to ponder that before deciding the 2014 details.
As an educator for most of my life, I’m grateful for lessons learned – even those learned the hard way. So the first big lesson that stands out to me from this year’s experience is this: I need more rest.