By Maria Koshute
We have all heard the old adage, "You can't give what you don't have." If we are tired and worn down, it is very hard to fully give to those around us, and it is difficult to be fully present and joyful. However, in our fast-paced society, it's easy to forget the need to be still, the need to be silent, the need to be replenished. Sometimes we don't necessarily forget about this need, but we recognize it and we often feel guilty about it. Thanks to America's puritan roots, our culture continues to tell us that sitting still, resting, and leisure is a waste of precious time when we should be doing something "productive." But trying to exist on excessive amounts of caffeine and small amounts of sleep as we pack in as many activities as possible in one day isn't exactly a recipe for joy either. The tasks and responsibilities of each day can weigh us down to the point of exhaustion. Yet we refuse to slow down and to fill our weary and empty souls with even a moment of peace. So how do we find replenishment in the midst of our busy days?
1. Recognize and honor your need for replenishment
If you feel extra drained and worn down, stressed and downtrodden, acknowledge the state of your weariness. Don't just slough it off and try to power forward. The exhaustion will only multiply. The more overwhelmed you feel, the less you will be able to be truly present in your work, with your family and friends, and in your attempts to serve others. It's okay to need rest, in fact, it's completely normal. Do not ignore or downplay this. Honor this need.
2. Identify the things that make you feel most replenished
Is it a long walk on a beautiful nature trail? Is it a deep conversation with a dear friend over a glass of wine? Is it a massage or pedicure? Is it time for prayer and meditation? It might even be as simple as devoting one hour a day to not looking at any screens (iPhone, computer, television, etc.) and focusing on the present and being mindful of the simple gifts in front of you.
3. Reach out to others
Building in time for replenishment might mean asking others for their help. It might mean asking others for their time or their help to alleviate excessive commitments or asking friends for help with childcare. Asking for help doesn't signify weakness: it signifies that you recognize your limitations and gives others the opportunity to help you in ways that your friends and family may not have even known you needed. (I am happy to help my mommy friends watch their children when they need a much deserved evening out - single ladies, ask your mommy friends on a regular basis if you can do this for them! We tend to have a little more flexibility to do this. Moms can also swap childcare to help one another get a reprieve once in awhile. We need to be there for each other!) Moms can repay the favor in creative ways: for example, a homemade meal or leftovers is always very welcome "payment" from my friends for helping with their kids as is their willingness to help me move large items in their minivans when needed. Serving one another is what friendship and family is all about.
4. Don't be afraid to say “No”
Not every single party, event, or committee needs your help. It's okay to say no in an effort to leave more time in your life for replenishment. You don't need a fabulous excuse to appease them. Thank them for the invitation, and politely say, "I actually already have a commitment Wednesday night." Because you do: a commitment to yourself.
5. Intentionally plan your replenishment time in advance
If you are finding that you have "no time" for rest and relaxation, intentionally plan it into your schedule, whether it's 15 minutes of prayer time every morning, two walks a week, or some time on a Sunday afternoon playing the piano. Like many things in life, if you don't intentionally plan it, you won't make it a priority.
6. Savor the stillness
When you are able to "get away", whether you are on a long walk, reading a book in a comfy chair, or painting in your studio, try to allow your mind to settle. Try not to spend your time thinking of all the things you need to do when you are done. Instead, relish the opportunity to rest, and to simply be. Seek to enter a state of contemplation. As Josef Pieper says so eloquently, “The ultimate meaning of the active life is to make possible the happiness of contemplation.”
When we make daily replenishment a priority in our lives, we are able to restore a sense of wholeness to our hearts. Our daily cares and responsibilities can tear us into a hundred different pieces, spinning in a million different directions. Replenishment allows these pieces to find their center once more, so that tomorrow, with a whole heart and a peaceful mind, we can face the world.